Ranking Most Improbable NBA Scoring Outbursts of Last 20 Years

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Ranking Most Improbable NBA Scoring Outbursts of Last 20 Years
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport
Where does Terrence Ross' career-high 51-point explosion rank on the list of improbable scoring outbursts?

Which player is responsible for the most improbable scoring outburst in recent NBA history?

Toronto Raptors second-year guard Terrence Ross inspired that question by dropping a career-high 51 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 25.

Luckily, thanks to Basketball-Reference, there's a scientific way to go about determining the answer.

Using Basketball-Reference's Game Finder tool, I went back through the last 20 years of NBA games to find every player who scored 50 or more points on a given night. To qualify for this list, the player's 50-point performance could be the only time in his career that he topped 40 points. (Otherwise, the 50-point night isn't all that improbable, is it?)

That narrowed the pool of candidates to eight.

From there, I used the Game Finder tool for each player to find his next-highest-scoring night. The 50-point efforts from players who routinely put up 30-plus points can't be considered as out-of-nowhere as those who never cracked 30 again. (And yes, one man holds that ignominious distinction.)

With those criteria in mind, here are the most improbable 50-point scorers over the past 20 years, starting with an honorable mention that just missed the cut.


Note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics come from Basketball-Reference.com.

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