Chris Paul had one of the all-time great performances in the NBA Playoffs while leading his Phoenix Suns to a 123-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. In Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinals series, the 11-time All-Star played an almost perfect game with 17 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was just the seventh time in NBA Playoffs history that a player has recorded 15+ points, 15+ assists and 0 turnovers in a game. Paul owns three of those records and he was the last one to achieve the milestone the previous two times.
Elite Playmakers in NBA Playoffs history
Not surprisingly, the only players to record this prestigious accomplishment in the NBA Playoffs were point guards as well. Since the league started tracking individual turnovers during the 1977-78 season, only five players have ever had a game of 15+ points, 15+ assists and 0 turnovers.
Here are the 5 NBA players to have achieved the near-impossible feat:
1. Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets/LA Clippers/Phoenix Suns)
Paul is the first and only player in NBA Playoffs history to record 15+ points, 15+ assists and 0 turnovers three times and he did it on three different teams. All the other players on this list were able to do it just once.
The first time that CP3 accomplished the feat was when he was still with the New Orleans Hornets in the 2008 NBA Playoffs. This was just his third season when he led the league in assists (11.6) and steals (2.7).
The setting was Game 5 and the Hornets were preparing to close out their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, who had won just one game so far. Paul would register the second triple-double in NBA Playoffs history while putting up 15+ points, 15+ assists and 0 turnovers. Overall, he had 24 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists and two steals with no turnovers to help the Hornets win 99-94.
His second time accomplishing the elusive stat line was in the 2014 NBA Playoffs with the LA Clippers. It was Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals and the series was knotted up 1-1 with the game on the Clippers’ home court.
Paul played an outstanding game with 21 points, 16 assists and three steals with no turnovers, while fellow All-Star Blake Griffin had 34 points and eight rebounds. But Paul’s heroics weren’t enough as the OKC Thunder won the contest 118-112, and went on to take out the Clippers 4-2 after six games.
2. Magic Johnson (LA Lakers)
In one of the last games he would play before his first retirement, Magic Johnson made sure he would be part of NBA Playoffs history. Magic became the first player to record a 15-15-0 game and notch a triple-double on the same night.
The LA Lakers overcame Tim Hardaway’s 33-point, 9-assist performance in Game 1 of their 1991 Western Conference Semifinals series with Johnson’s own magical masterpiece. The three-time NBA MVP recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds, 17 assists, three steals with no turnovers to lead the Lakers to a 126-116 win.
Though the Warriors would tie the NBA Playoffs series 1-1 in the next game, the Lakers won the last three to finish off the Run TMC-led squad 4-1.
3. Jason Kidd (Phoenix Suns)
In the 2001 NBA Playoffs, Jason Kidd’s No. 6-seeded Phoenix Suns faced off against the title-contending Sacramento Kings, bannered by Chris Webber and Jason Williams. With the series tied 1-1 in the best-of-five Western Conference first-round series, Kidd would have a masterful performance as a playmaker.
The NBA’s leading assist man (9.8 apg) orchestrated the Suns’ offense to near perfection in Game 3 with 19 points, 16 assists, four rebounds, three steals and zero turnovers. But the Kings had six players score in double-figures to the Suns’ five, and went on to win the game 104-96, as well as the NBA Playoffs series 3-1.
4. Norm Nixon (LA Lakers)
Norm Nixon is the second player from the LA Lakers to be on this list. The 6-foot-2 guard was a two-time All-Star and a two-time NBA champion who led the team in assists (9.0 apg) during the 1978-79 season.
During the 1979 NBA Playoffs, a few months before the Showtime Lakers Era debuted in the NBA with Magic’s arrival, Nixon played one of the most perfect games in league annals.
Heading into Game 4 of the 1979 Western Conference Semifinals, the Lakers were down 2-1 to the Seattle Supersonics. Someone had to step up, and Nixon did.
Lakers superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the team with 31 points and 13 rebounds, but it was Nixon who had an otherworldly game with 21 points, 19 assists and zero turnovers. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they lost to the eventual NBA champion Sonics 117-115 in the closest game of the series that ended with Seattle winning 4-1.
5. Johnny Moore (San Antonio Spurs)
During the 1982-83 NBA season, Johnny Moore averaged 12.2 points and a team-high 9.8 assists per game for the San Antonio Spurs. He was the fifth-leading scorer on the Spurs, but in their Western Conference Semifinals matchup with the Denver Nuggets, Moore was an unstoppable scorer. He put up 27.2 points per game, second only to NBA legend George Gervin.
In Game 1 of their NBA Playoffs series, Moore complemented Gervin’s 42-point explosion with 24 points, 17 assists and zero turnovers in 34 minutes. Two other players, Gene Banks and Mike Mitchell, scored 22 apiece in a high-scoring game that saw the Spurs win 152-133. They would go on to win the series 4-1.