Tag Archives: Kevin Martin

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.

What in Kevin’s name is going on here?

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Kevin Love and Kevin Martin, two-fifths of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting lineup, scored 64 of the team’s 109 points in a nine-point victory at New York last night, giving the team a 3-0 start to the season. What was even more impressive from Martin and Love were the 64 points coming from only 31 field goal attempts, including Martin’s 30 points on only 12 shots party thanks to sinking all five of his three-point attempts.

Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, and Nikola Pekovic round out the rest of Minnesota’s starting lineup that’s blitzed the opposition in the first halves of each of their first three games, outscoring opposing lineups by 34.3 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com. For the most part, they were responsible last night for putting the Knicks in a 21-point hole after the first quarter.

When taking the last 24 minutes of the game into account though, the scoring of Minnesota’s starting unit takes a steep drop thanks to sloppiness we saw against the Knicks who, down 15 to start the fourth quarter, got within two with 4:48 left. That’s when the two Kevins carried the Wolves offense from there, scoring eight of the last nine points and 24 of the last 27. That two-man combination, along with the Love-Rubio duo, has all sorts of potential as a versatile one-two bunch to give defenders problems all season.

There’s one set I’ve noticed over the first three games though that’s especially intriguing when involving specifically Love and Martin. Love, a step above either elbow, will get the ball from Martin and have the opportunity to hand the ball back as Martin goes around him and to the baseline. Handing it off gives Martin a good look at a baseline jumper or Love can wait a little longer and allow him to post up, particularly against a smaller guard like last night when he was effective against Raymond Felton. This all happens with an entire side of the court initially spaced out for just those two to operate.

But Love can also fake the handoff to Martin and take a dribble behind the arc for a shot of his own. If that isn’t there –and if a pump faked three by Love somehow fails to draw a defender in the air– Pekovic will come sweeping across the lane, like in a few other plays that run through Love, for a post up near the rim.

The most notable Martin-Love variation of that play actually came last night when it nearly caused a turnover. Unfortunately for Spike Lee, it still led to two points:

Letting Love operate above either elbow has been a staple in the Wolves offense since Rick Adelman came to Minnesota. The last two seasons had Luke Ridnourgiven his effectiveness with shots along the baselineas the guy best for working off him (in my couch potato opinion). There’s also been variations to the play over the years such as a guard setting a pick on Love’s defender, allowing a cleaner look at a Love step-back three-point attempt, or Love setting a screen and allowing a Wolves guard to dribble into a mid-range jumper.

Let’s see how that all works with Martin now, who was due last night for some solid shooting after going 10-of-30 from the field in the first two games.

For Love (29.7 points, 14.7 rebounds, 13 free throw attempts per game), it looks like he’s back to his pre-2013 self, the one that made Second Team All-NBA as a 23-year-old. Having that version for an entire season should put Minnesota back in the playoffs.

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