22. Bill Melchionni vs. Texas Chaparrals, Nov. 29, 1970
The New York Nets were playing in their third home in four seasons in 1970-71, hosting the regionally renamed Texas Chaparrals early in the season at Island Garden in West Hempstead, N.Y.
Bill Melchionni was in his second season as the Nets point guard after being rescued from Eastern Professional Baskeball League’s Trenton Colonials.
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He began his career as a reserve for the Philadelphia 76ers for two seasons before losing his roster spot and heading to NBA purgatory, as the reserve clause allowed the 76ers to hold his rights while not playing him … or paying him.
Melchionni had put together a solid first season for the Nets, averaging 15.2 points and 5.7 assists per game, but was looking to take another step in his second time around the ABA.
The Nets got out to a big early lead against the Chaps, going up 36-26 after one period, and cruised to a 129-113 victory to get back to within a game of the .500 mark at 10-11.
Melchionni had a big night, finishing with 29 points and setting what would remain the Nets’ ABA single-game record with 16 assists (a mark he would match roughly a year later against the Pittsburgh Condors).
The Nets were able to win despite a huge disparity at the foul line. Texas made 31 free throws to just 16 for New York, which was called for 28 fouls to the Chaps’ 14. Home cooking? Not so much.