Capturing lightning in a bottle: Remembering Pecherov and Paspalj

Only hard-core NBA fans remember much about the career of Oleksiy Pecherov.

During his three-season career in the NBA, all of his five career starts came in the first eight days of November 2009.

Sure, they came on a miserable Minnesota team and most people weren’t watching that closely. His team would win only 15 games that season.

But in a game on Nov. 4, 2009, against Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics, Pecherov erupted for 24 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes. It marked the only time that Pecherov would ever score more than 15 points in his career.

Danny Chau of Hardwood lists Pecherov’s big game for journeyman NBA players.

Pecherov’s might be the most stunning. It sparked a memorable line from Brendan Jackson on Celtics afterwards:

“I just can’t fathom how a guy like this, that was guarded by Kevin Garnett, was able to have a game like this,” Jackson wrote after the game.

A similar game never came again. And Pecherov soon was out of the league.

Chau’s list is pretty complete, although he doesn’t mention one of the most memorable footnote players in Spurs history and his one shining moment.

That would be Zarko Paspalj, the chain-smoking 6-foot-9 power forward from Montenegro who played with the Spurs in the 1989-90 season. Paspalj’s big game came on Jan. 20, 1990, when tossed in 13 points — the only double-figure scoring game of his career — in 14 minutes in a 126-99 loss at Denver.

Paspalj grabbed four offensive rebounds and blocked two shots in the game against the Nuggets. He never had more than one blocked shot in any of the other 22 games of his NBA career. He produced 11 offensive rebounds in the remaining 168 minutes of his brief career with the Spurs.

Obviously, the cigarettes must have prepared him for Denver’s altitude for that big game.

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