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The Rockets Hilariously Conspired to Get Kevin Porter Jr. His First Triple Double

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: the long tradition of NBA stat padding, Brian Kelly’s text to Notre Dame players and more.

Does this really even count?

Monday night was an important milestone for Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. For the first time in his three-year NBA career, Porter notched a triple double in Houston’s win over the Thunder. But the box score doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Rockets built a sizable lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and both teams emptied their benches. But Porter, a starter, stayed on the court because he was one rebound shy of his first triple double. When OKC’s Théo Maledon squared up for a three-point attempt, Porter positioned himself right below the rim, ready to haul in that precious 10th rebound. But the ball clanged hard off the back of the rim and ricocheted well over Porter’s head.

Luckily for Porter, his teammates were determined to get him that rebound. Alperen Şengün tipped the ball back toward him and Josh Christopher pleaded frantically with Porter to come retrieve it. Porter snagged the ball and, although the official scorer initially didn’t credit him with the rebound, the crowd gave him a hearty round of applause when the triple double was confirmed.

Games like Porter’s are exactly why the triple double has lost prestige in recent years. In addition to his 11 assists and nine legitimate rebounds, he finished with 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting (1-of-8 from three). That’s 23.5%, not exactly a career performance. But he reached that magic double-digit threshold in the big three counting stats, even though he might look back on that box score years from now and be embarrassed by how he got that last rebound.

Fans and analysts might not be that impressed by the triple double anymore, but the appeal of the achievement to players is undeniable. There’s a long tradition of NBA players going all out to try to get their 10th point, rebound or assist. Who can forget Ricky Davis's attempting a layup on his own basket in 2003? Or Andray Blatche's throwing a mini tantrum when a teammate grabbed a rebound from him in '10? There was also a 1996 game where Anthony Bowie called a timeout with 2.7 seconds left and his team up 20 just to try to get another assist, which led Doug Collins to pull his Pistons off the floor in disgust. A manufactured triple double is lame, but you have to appreciate how creative players can get when they’re chasing stats like that. 

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