A look at 50-point games among active NBA players

Keith Allison | Flickr

Keith Allison | Flickr

Last night’s matchup between Golden State and Oklahoma City became the 70th time an active NBA player scored 50 or more points. Cheers to Kevin Durant, who scored 54 points on just 28 shots. I’ll take a look at that night and the 68 others that featured 50-point scorers who have yet to hang it up, or so I think. Basketball-Reference lists players like Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse, and Richard Hamilton as active, but probably because it’s only a matter of time before they play for Brooklyn and round up an All-2000s squad. (For a simple table of the 50-point scorers, click here.)

Overall, 25 active players make up the list of 70 fifty-point outings across over 15 different seasons. 23 teams have been the victim of 50-point games while seven remain free of the embarrassment, though that could change while Kevin Durant continues his efficient explosion without Russell Westbrook. It only makes sense that teams with the 50-point scorer have won 50 of those 69 games.

Kobe Bryant has 24 of the 70 fifty-point occurrences with 16 coming post-Shaquille O’Neal and pre-Pau Gasol. The Lakers were 17-7 in those offensive explosions, including four consecutive wins in March 2007 (he averaged 40.4 points per game for the month). Bryant and Antawn Jamison are the only active players to score 50 points both against each other and on the same night, which is why there are 69 different games instead of 70. Jamison had back-to-back 50 point games in December of 2000.

Age

Brandon Jennings is the youngest player (20 years, 52 days) to ever score 50 points. I miss comparing him to Allen Iverson, which didn’t last long at all but nevertheless long live ‘Fear the Deer‘. As far as active players go, Andre Miller is the oldest (33 years, 317 days) to score 50. Both outings for the two players happened in the 2009-10 season, and their shot charts greatly differentiate from one another. 

Least and most attempts

The least amount of field goal attempts on a 50-point night belongs to Kevin Martin, who relied on 23 free throws and a good chunk of threes. Bryant’s 62-points-on-31-shots on December 20, 2005 could’ve given Martin a run, but he needed a few more shots to hit the 50-point mark. Instead, Bryant’s needed the most field goal attempts to get to 50 points (42 shots) when he finished with 53 points off 44 attempts in a loss to Houston. Surprisingly, Jerry Stackhouse’s 50-point night didn’t need 50 shots. He took 36, tied for 13th-most.

Other stats with 50 points

20 double-doubles (three from 10+ assists, 17 from 10+ rebounds) have been recorded from players scoring 50 points. Eight of those came from players logging over 48 minutes. As far as tons of minutes are concerned, sixteen 50-point games were recorded while playing over 48.

Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Love each had 50-point games without logging a single assist with Love’s coming while playing 49 minutes. As for Bryant and Anthony, they also had 50-point games where they didn’t record a single turnover. Surprisingly, that’s happened to Kobe not once but twice. Rashard Lewis is the only other player to accomplish such a feat.

Starting games versus coming off the bench

Every one of those seventy 50-point nights were from players who started, but a (currently active) player off the bench has scored 40+ points 14 times. That features nine different players who all needed starter-level minutes (30 or more). Each one of them also made at least one three-pointer.

A BOLD statement

The three-pointer brings me to my closing remarks regarding these high-octane outings. Only four times has a player who scored 50 points not made a three with those games belonging to Jermaine O’Neal, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, and Paul Pierce.

Going forward, I’ll go on a limb and say no 50-point game will happen again without a made three-point shot.

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