NBA Playoffs 2011: Dirk Nowitzki's 48 Points Trump Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2011

DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates as he walks off the court after the Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-112 in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dirk Nowitzki scored 48 points on just 15 field-goal attempts last night.  He was 12-of-15 from the field and an incredible 24-of-24 from the free-throw line.

In terms of efficiency, it was the greatest single-game scoring performance of the last 25 years (a time frame that obviously includes Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant).

Last night, he averaged 3.2 points per field-goal attempt and 16 points per miss (a stat conjured up by ESPN's Bill Simmons via his Twitter).

Nowitzki's 48 is the 16th-highest individual point total for a playoff game since the 1985-86 season.

Of the 15 individual scoring performances that top Dirk's in terms of points scored, none of them are even close in terms of efficiency.

Some of the players who have topped 48 during the last 25 years include Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley.

Jordan's best points per miss (PPM from now on) in playoff games in which he scored better than Dirk's 48 is 4.7.  Obviously, nowhere near the incredible 16 PPM Dirk posted.

Here is the PPM for all 15 playoff performances of more than 48 points (since '85-'86):


Player Points FG Missed FT Missed PPM
Michael Jordan631923.0
Charles Barkley 56 8 2 5.6
Michael Jordan 56 10 2 4.7
Allen Iverson 55 11 1 4.6
Michael Jordan 55 13 0 4.2
Michael Jordan 55 16 5 2.6
Allen Iverson 54 18 0 3.0
Michael Jordan 54 12 2 3.9
Allen Iverson 52 11 0 4.7
Ray Allen 51 14 1 3.4
Dirk Nowitzki 50 12 1 3.8
Kobe Bryant 50 15 1 3.1
Vince Carter 50 10 0 5.0
Karl Malone 50 14 1 3.3
LeBron James 49 10 4 3.5
Kobe Bryant 49 9 1 4.9


Barkley's performance comes closest, but even his PPM of 5.6 looks minuscule compared to Dirk's 16.

We can extend this look beyond the playoffs too.  I think we'd all acknowledge that Kobe Bryant's 81-point game in 2006 against the Raptors was the greatest scoring performance of this era (and you could even argue that it was better than Wilt's 100).

Comparing Kobe's 81 to Dirk's 48 looks like this:


Player  Points FG Missed FT Missed PPM Points per FGA
Kobe Bryant 81 18 2 4.1 1.7
Dirk Nowitzki 48 3 0 16 3.2


It would be hard for me to tell you that a 48-point game was more impressive than an 81-point game, but in terms of efficiency, it was.

Dirk's PPM was four times better than Kobe's and his points per field-goal attempt was almost twice as good.

I don't think anyone is paying enough attention or giving enough credit to Nowitzki right now.  His game against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night could very well be the greatest scoring performance in NBA playoff history.

To me, there's no doubt it's the best of this era.


You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter @_Andy_Bailey