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Royals Top Knicks as Robertson Sets Cobo Hall Assist Record

Jan. 30, 1964 - Oscar Robertson shattered the Cobo Hall assist record and the Cincinnati Royals got healthy in other respects as well with a runaway 133-110 victory over the New York Knicks tonight in the opener of an NBA doubleheader before Detroit’s largest basketball crowd of the year. The Big O assisted in 18 baskets by his teammates, breaking the previous arena record of 17 held by the Warriors’ Guy Rodgers, and added 28 points, but the heartening items for the Royals were a good second-half defensive effort and big point nights from both Jack Twyman (29) and Wayne Embry (18). The victory put Cincinnati within 3½ games of the division-leading Celtics. The Royals returned home immediately after the game to prepare for Friday night’s televised match with the red-hot Baltimore Bullets at Dayton.

In the final moments tonight, Robertson almost ran himself out of breath trying to set up a teammate for the record-breaking assists. He got the 18th on a Larry Staverman basket with 1:25 remaining and was withdrawn to a huge ovation. Cincinnati coach Jack McMahon, who had threatened lineup changes if the Royals didn’t snap out of their lethargy of the last two games, saw plenty of good signs in the win. “We let them score too many easy buckets in the first half,” he said, “but we cut off [Knick center Bill] McGill in the third quarter, and we did it by sagging back and playing in front of him. He got discouraged.”

The Royals needed big nights from Twyman and Embry because Jerry Lucas appeared tired. Luke hadn’t played basketball for four days, getting a shot for his knee earlier in the week and being excused from practice, and did not play in the fourth quarter tonight. “If Luke isn’t scoring,” said McMahon, “we’ve got to offense out of Twyman, and we did. I wasn’t worried at the end when I started substituting and they came back a little. We had an 18-point lead, and I’ve got to have confidence in my substitutes.”


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