Ranking the Most Impressive Scoring Outbursts of the 2013-14 NBA Season
You never really expect a 51-point game, but some are a little more surprising than others. Such was Corey Brewer's Friday night outburst, an achievement that prompted ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh to tweet LeBron James response of "Wait, who?!"
James wasn't the only one doing a double take. Guys like Brewer aren't supposed to have those kind of games. They're reserved for the Kevin Durants of the world, the superstars, the icons. Right?
Most of the time.
Brewer certainly isn't the only guy to have a huge game this season. He isn't even the only surprise. As we peruse the 10 most impressive scoring outbursts of the season, we'll notice that some names are more familiar than others.
How would you rank this season's best scoring displays?
10. Kevin Love's 43—February 1, 2014
You could argue that Kevin Love's 45 points against the Los Angeles Clippers were slightly more impressive, but those points came in an overtime game in which Love played five additional minutes. And besides, it was against the Clippers, where tempo knows no bounds.
Both games came with a seemingly perfunctory 19 rebounds, a testament to just how busy Love stays on both ends of the floor.
Against the Hawks, he went 12-of-22 from the field and made an astounding 17 of 18 free throws.
9. Kyrie Irving's 44—April 5, 2014
It took Kyrie Irving 31 shots to drop 44 points on the Charlotte Bobcats, but there's no question he belongs on the list—especially on account of everything else he managed to accomplish. Irving added eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals to his line.
Irving also dropped 40 in December and 41 in November. He surpassed 40 twice last season, including a 41-point effort at Madison Square Garden.
The third-year guard is proving he's one of the best young point guards in the game, but his Cleveland Cavaliers will again miss the postseason.
Much as Irving has done, he can't do it all.
8. LaMarcus Aldridge's 44—January 23, 2014
LaMarcus Aldridge notched a career-high 44 points against the Denver Nuggets this season, and he added 13 rebounds and five assists for good measure.
The 28-year-old is finally getting some recognition now that his Portland Trail Blazers are winning some games, and the 44 points certainly didn't hurt. Now the word is getting out that the big man can score from almost anywhere and has a nice variety of moves inside and out.
Aldridge was 15-of-29 from the field and 14-of-17 from the line.
7. Stephen Curry's 44—January 31, 2014
The only thing better than the 43 points Stephen Curry poured in on December 9 was the 44 he collected against the Utah Jazz in January.
In case you had any doubts about the man's shooting ability, fear no more. He went 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
It certainly helps that Curry isn't afraid to shoot the ball. He explained as much after the game, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com): "Every time I have a clean look, I feel like it's a good shot. I have the confidence of everybody in the locker room. So if it's time to score and I'm feeling the moment, I got to rise up."
And rise up he did.
6. James Harden's 43—February 25, 2014
The really impressive thing about the 43 points James Harden scored against the Sacramento Kings is that he did it in three quarters. Who knows how much more damage he could have done if left in the game?
Chances are he would have made it even higher on this list.
Harden is no stranger to scoring the ball. He's averaging 25.4 points this season and has been instrumental in the Houston Rockets clinching another playoff berth, this time with better seeding than a year ago.
Harden was also incredibly efficient for the game. He went 11-of-20 from the field, 6-of-9 from beyond the arc and 15-of-16 from the free-throw line.
5. Corey Brewer's 51—April 11, 2014
What a night for Corey Brewer.
With Kevin Love and Kevin Martin both sitting, the Minnesota Timberwolves could very easily have folded against the Houston Rockets. Brewer wouldn't let that happen, guiding his team to a 112-110 victory and putting himself in rare historical company in the process.
Thanks to his six steals, Brewer joins just Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry as the only players in history to record at least 50 points and six steals in the same game.
Brewer only made two three-pointers but went to the free-throw line 15 games. He was a blur, weaving through the lane and putting up a variety of shots en route to the big night.
The performance was as shocking to Brewer as anyone else, per the AP (via ESPN.com): "You know how many guys scored 50 in the NBA? That's what makes it such a special night because I never in my career expected to score 50. ... There's a lot of good company up there."
Company that now includes Brewer himself.
4. Terrence Ross' 51—January 25, 2014
You could certainly make any number of arguments as to why Corey Brewer's 51 points were more impressive, but my argument is this: Terrence Ross is still just 23. His previous career high was just 26 points.
He scored his 51 on a healthy Toronto Raptors roster, whereas Brewer stood out when high-volume scorers Kevin Love and Kevin Martin were both sitting out injured. DeMar DeRozan was playing. Kyle Lowry was playing.
Ross had to earn his touches. And that's exactly what he did. "You don't really realize what you're doing until it's all over," Ross said, per the AP (via ESPN.com).
He made 10 of 17 three-point attempts, proving he's one of the best up-and-coming perimeter scorers in the game.
On the season, Ross is averaging just 11 points per contest.
3. LeBron James' 61—March 3, 2014
LeBron James set a franchise record and career high all in one fell swoop against the Charlotte Bobcats, earning the second-highest single-game point total of the season. Just when you thought it was impossible to improve upon an endless series of outstanding individual performances, James did just that this March.
Thanks to James, the Heat overcame 38 points and 19 rebounds from Al Jefferson to best the Bobcats 124-107.
Most don't think of LeBron as a pure scorer, largely because he does so many other things so well. But he proved on this night that he could score with the best of them.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra noted the efficiency with which he did it, saying at the time, "The rim looked like an ocean for him," according to the AP (via ESPN.com).
It was a fitting sentiment. James went 22-of-33 from the field and 8-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc. For good measure, he added seven rebounds and five assists just in case you were wondering whether he could still do everything.
2. Kevin Durant's 54—January 17, 2014
It wasn't just how many points Kevin Durant scored against the Golden State Warriors. It was how he scored them.
In a game that was ultimately decided by just six points, KD got his when they counted the most. The AP (via ESPN.com) with the recap: "The 6-foot-9 forward had 11 points during one two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, powering the Thunder to a 17-point lead. With the crowd of 18,203 chanting, "MVP! MVP!" he made two foul shots with 2:45 remaining to establish a new career-best scoring total."
LeBron scored more, but Durant stayed hot during the clutch moments of a close game. In total, he shot 19-of-28 from the field and went 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Durant has surpassed 50 twice this season, dropping 51 in a double-overtime classic against the Toronto Raptors. Including those two games, he's scored at least 40 on 13 separate occasions this season, which helps explain his gaudy 31.9 point-per-game average.
KD's masterpiece performances have ranked his season with one of the best scoring displays in history. It's only fitting that his 54 against the Warriors was a career high. It's been that kind of year.
1. Carmelo Anthony's 62—January 24, 2014
Carmelo Anthony made 23 of 35 field-goal attempts en route to 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats. It was the most anyone has scored this season, so that's one reason to give this performance the top spot.
But there are others.
Anthony only went to the free-throw line 10 times, and he hit every one of them. He made six of 11 three-point attempts. He added 13 rebounds to his line while he was at it.
Perhaps most impressively, Anthony didn't turn the ball over once in 39 minutes.
He did it all against the Bobcats defense, which ranks fourth leaguewide in points allowed.
In the process, Anthony also set a record for most points scored at Madison Square Garden, the most prestigious of venues. Thanks to the record-setting outburst, the Knicks ended up winning the game 125-96 and halted a five-game losing streak in the process.
Said Anthony of his feat, per ESPN.com: "I made history tonight, with the performance, but just to be a part of that group of people, like I said, there's only a small group of people that knows what that zone feels like and tonight I was one of them."
Anthony has dropped 44 points on two separate occasions this season, as well.