McConnell finished Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with 16 points, 13 assists and a franchise-record 10 steals in the Pacers’ come-from-behind, 114-111 victory. He had nine of those steals in the first half, setting an NBA record, and became just the sixth player in NBA history to record a points-assists-steals triple-double.
And he wasn’t even in the starting lineup.
Mookie Blaylock, then with the Atlanta Hawks, was the last player to record a triple-double with points, assists and steals during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in April 1998.
(Worth noting: Robertson also had 11 rebounds in the February 1986 game, making it one of five quadruple-doubles in NBA history. Also, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors recorded the NBA’s only triple-double that didn’t include scoring with 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals but just four points on Feb. 10, 2017.)
McConnell came up one short of matching the NBA record for steals in a game shared by the New Jersey Nets’ Kendall Gill (who had a 15-point, 10-rebound, 11-steal triple-double in 1999) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Larry Kenon (in 1976). (Ted McClain had 12 steals in a game for the ABA’s New York Nets in December 1973.)
“That’s as good of an all-around game from T.J. as you’re going to see in the NBA with the multiple ways he affected it,” Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon told the AP. “He’s the ultimate teammate as well, so we were all very happy for him.”
McConnell made all eight of his field goal attempts in 36 minutes for the Pacers, who were down 19 points in the third quarter. At one point in the first quarter, McConnell stole the ball on five straight Cavaliers possessions.
He is averaging an NBA-best two steals per game.
“McConnell earned it; he earned it tonight,” Cavaliers Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He’s a pest all the time. He’s super competitive all the time.”
Said McConnell: “I was just playing with our defensive principles and trying to help run the team. I wasn’t going out of my way to make steals. We kind of dug ourselves a hole, so I’m happiest about the win.”