Last Tuesday, Mo Williams made headline news after scoring 52 points against the Indiana Pacers. The Minnesota Timberwolves had lost 15 games in a row, so it took a herculean effort by Williams to help lead the Wolves past the Pacers on the road for a 110-101 victory.
What makes Mo’s 52 points so remarkable is that he is 32-years-old and past his prime as an eleven-year veteran. Mo has never averaged more than 17.8 points per game in a single season and this year, he is only averaging 12.9 points per game. Mo has always been an offensive threat, but he has never been the type of threat that would even make him the second best option on a team. He has always been more of a role player that could score off the bench; a spark akin to the Jamal Crawford’s of the NBA. So, when he went off for 52 points last week, it raised a lot of eyebrows because it is this season’s highest scoring mark.
Only 108 players in NBA history have ever scored 50 points or more in a single game. Of course Jordan has done it 31 times, Wilt has done it 30 times, and Kobe has done it 24 times. But those are the types of players that you would expect to be on a list like this. What you would not expect to be on this list is a player like Andre Miller or Tony Delk. Yet, NBA players are NBA players for a reason. You do not make it to the NBA unless you were a dynamic scorer at least one point in your career, whether it was in high school, college, or the pros. So, when a completely random NBA player scores 50 points in a game, it should not surprise us.
Below is a list of some of the most unlikely people that you thought would score 50 points in a single game over the past couple decades.
10 Tracy Murray – 50 Points
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors
Career Scoring Average: 9.0 ppg
On February 10, 1998, Tracy Murray went off for 50 points against the Golden State Warriors. The 6-7 forward’s highest scoring average was 16.2 points per game during the 1995-1996 season, so the fact that Murray went off for 50 points two years after his career high is remarkable. Murray had never really been a dynamic scorer, at least not until that February evening in 1998. In fact, Murray was so hot that night, that he helped his point guard, Rod Strickland, tally a total of 20 assists that night. Murray made 18 out of 29 from the field, including 5 out of his 10 three-pointers and 9 out of 10 from the charity stripe.
9 Dana Barros – 50 Points
Philadelphia Sixers vs. Houston Rockets
Career Scoring Average: 10.5 ppg
On March 14th, 1995, Dana Barros went off for 50 points against the Houston Rockets. The Philadelphia Sixers were in the midst of a 24-58 season when they were facing the Rockets, but that night, the stars aligned perfectly for Barros and the Sixers. Barros was the quintessential player that was getting inflated numbers on a bad team, which enabled him to average a career best 20.6 points per game that season. That evening Barros hit 6 out of 8 from downtown and went 21 out of 26 overall. What makes this feat so remarkable is that he only went to the line once for a pair of free throws, which means that his defenders were not giving him the respect that he deserved that night.
8 Charles Smith – 52 Points
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets
Career Scoring Average: 14.4 ppg
On December 1st, 1990, Charles Smith scored 52 points against the Denver Nuggets. At the time, Smith was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was averaging around 20 points per game during his first three seasons. Smith was 17 out of 27 from the field and 18 out of 21 from the free throw line, which means that he was getting a lot of attention on the defensive end. Like many of the others that you will see on this list, Smith tallied his 52 points without making a single three pointer. It is always tougher for a player to hit the 50-point mark if they do not have a three-point stroke, but Smith was feeling hot from everywhere else that night.
7 Willie Burton – 53 Points
Philadelphia Sixers vs. Miami Heat
Career Scoring Average: 10.3 ppg
On December 13th, 1994, a no-name player named Willie Burton became a household name. During the same season that his teammate Dana Barros went off for 50 points, Burton also went off for 53 points three months prior to Barros. Burton his 5 of his 8 three-pointers and hit a whopping 24 out of his 28 free throws from the charity stripe. Since Burton was cashing in so heavily from the free throw line, he only needed to make 12 out of his 19 shots to get to a total of 53 points. Talk about efficiency.
6 Tony Delk – 53 Points
Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings
Career Scoring Average: 9.1 ppg
On January 2nd, 2001, Tony Delk lit up the Sacramento Kings out of nowhere for 53 points. Delk has never averaged more than 12.3 points per game his entire career, but this particular night, he looked like Allen Iverson. Delk made 20 of his 27 attempts and 13 out of his 15 free throws. What makes his 53 outburst so surprising is that Delk only took 1 three-pointer and missed it. All of Delk’s shots were within the arc, not an easy feat for a small guard without a jump shot.
5 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf – 51 Points
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
Career Scorer Average: 14.6 ppg
On December 7th, 1995 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf scored 51 points from pretty much everywhere on the court against one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history – John Stockton. During the 1995 season, Abdul-Rauf averaged a career high of 19.2 points per game, so he has always been a lightning in the bottle with his ability to bomb three-pointers from anywhere on the court. The former Most Improved Player from 1992-1993 was always a streaky shooter, but that evening, he was in the zone. And when you are in the zone, not even a player like Stockton can stop you.
4 Clifford Robinson – 50 Points
Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets
Career Scoring Average: 14.2 ppg
Uncle Cliff was 33-years old when he scored 50 points against the Denver Nuggets on January 16th, 2000. Robinson was playing for the Phoenix Suns at this point in his career and had moved on from his days as a Portland Trailblazer. In this game, Uncle Cliff scored 50 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists. He also hit 3 out of his 5 three-point attempts and made 13 out of his 15 free throws. The most that Robinson has ever averaged in a single season is 21.3 points per game, which is very respectable. However, when he scored his 50-point game, Robinson was averaging less than 20 points per game. But it was his all-around game that kept Robinson in the league for 18-years until he was the age of 40.
3 Andre Miller – 52 Points
Portland Trailblazers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Career Scoring Average: 13.0 ppg
On January 30th, 2010, Andre Miller, who has always been a pass first point guard, transformed himself into a Michael Jordan clone for one evening. Miller, who was playing for the Blazers at the time, erupted for 52 points against the Dallas Mavericks. Miller was only averaging 14 points per game during the 2009-2010 season, but he demonstrated that he was capable of being a bonafide scorer as well. Combine that with the amount of assists that Miller has tallied up during his long career, and he will surprisingly go down as a top 10 point guard in NBA history. Numbers don't lie.
2 Terrence Ross – 51 Points
Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Career Scorer Average: 9.3 ppg
On January 24th, 2014, Terrence Ross exploded for 51 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in only his second year in the league. Ross’s 51 points matched Vince Carter’s 51-point game from February 27th, 2000, when he was a Raptor at the time. The third year guard is averaging a career high 11.2 points per game this year, so he has never been a dynamic scorer, but that particular night the rim looked like the Pacific Ocean. Ross is mostly known for his freakish athletic ability, but that night he was draining three’s from everywhere on the court. Ross’s previous high was 26 points, but he nearly doubled that career high with his 51 points that night.
1 Corey Brewer – 51 Points
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets
Career Scorer Average: 10. 1 ppg
On April 11th, 2014, Corey Brewer went off for 51 points against the Houston Rockets, which was 24 points more than his previous career high of 27 points. What is so remarkable about what Brewer accomplished is that he only made two 3-point shots. The bulk of Brewer’s shots came within 10 feet of the basket. That means that Brewer scored his 51 points much more like a center than a shooting guard or small forward would, which makes his 51 points even more shocking, since Brewer is one of the skinniest players that you will see in the NBA.