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5 NBA players with the most 50-point games

Photo by Phil Velasquez (Chicago Tribune)
Photo by Phil Velasquez (Chicago Tribune)
ANALYST
Modified 12 Jan 2021, 21:14 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Wilt Chamberlain are just some of the names that come to mind when someone thinks of the greatest scorers in NBA history. But who are the players who have had the most 50-point games?

The NBA is the home of some of the greatest scorers in basketball history. In its almost 75 years of existence, the league has showcased a plethora of talented players who have achieved scoring feats that have mesmerized fans of all ages.

Recording 50 points in a single game is no easy feat, and naturally, something not many NBA players have accomplished. But for five very special individuals, it seems like 50 points is a right that is due to them ever so often.

Here are the 5 NBA players with the most 50-point games in league history:


#5. Elgin Baylor (17 Games)

Elgin Baylor is a member of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. If there was an official list of the league’s greatest scorers and they were ranked, he’d be listed in the top five. The LA Lakers forward scored 50 or more points in 17 games - that’s an average of more than one 50-point game for each of the 14 seasons he played in.

On November 15, 1960, Baylor scored a then-NBA record 71 points against the New York Knicks. For the longest time, this was the highest-scoring game in franchise history until a certain Laker great eclipsed it more than 40 years later.

Despite this, Baylor still owns the franchise’s highest-scoring average with 27.4 points per game.

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#4. James Harden (23 Games)

The most accomplished scorer in the NBA today, James Harden, is a scoring machine who continues to confound opponents on a nightly basis. In his 12 seasons in the NBA, Harden has scored at least 50 points in 23 games, the most among active players.

His greatest season so far as a scorer has been the 2018-19 NBA season, when he averaged 36.1 points per game - the highest single-season scoring average since the 1986-87 season. Harden recorded 50 or more points in 10 games that year, including a pair of 61-point outings, the Houston Rockets guard’s career-high. 

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Six
Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Six
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Overall, he had nine 50-point games that season, one more than Jordan registered during his highest-scoring NBA campaign.


#3. Kobe Bryant (25 Games)

The late Kobe Bryant has 25 games in his ledger in which he scored at least 50 points. During his storied NBA career, Bryant was arguably the most feared scorer to walk the court.

The LA Lakers legend led the league in scoring during the 2005-06 season when he averaged 35.4 points per game. That year, he also made history by recording the second-highest scoring game in NBA annals.

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Four
Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Four
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On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored an incredible 81 points in a 122-104 victory against the Toronto Raptors. The 81-point masterpiece included 55 points in the second half alone, as the Lakers battled back from an 18-point deficit. He made 28-of-46 shots from the field (7-of-13 from three) and 18-of-20 from the line.

That season, Bryant had six games in which he broke the 50-point barrier, including the 81-point game and a 62-point performance in only three-quarters of play.


#2. Michael Jordan (31 Games)

One of the most recognizable faces on the planet is also one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. Michael Jordan reached the half-century mark 31 times in his illustrious career.

Most of his 50-point performances were achieved during the 1980s when the Chicago Bulls offense revolved around him, and he had very few teammates who could put the ball in the hole. He scored a career-high 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 117-113 overtime win on March 28, 1990.

His highest scoring season was the aforementioned 1986-87 season, when he averaged 37.1 points per game. In all, he led the league in scoring a record 10 times in his career. Wilt Chamberlain came closest at seven.

But his most sentimental 50-point game may have been his last one during the 2001-02 season, when he was a 38-year old playing for the Washington Wizards. 

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On Dec. 29, 2001, two days after scoring only six points against the Indiana Pacers, Jordan recorded 51 points in a 107-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to become the oldest player to score 50 or more points in a single contest.

Though Jamal Crawford broke the record eventually when he had 51 as a 39-year old, Jordan’s performance proved he could score against any generation in the NBA.


#1. Wilt Chamberlain (118 Games)

Out of all of Wilt Chamberlain’s untouchable records, this may be the one that will never be equaled. Kobe Bryant’s 81-point explosion showed that someone might one day eclipse Chamberlain’s 100-point NBA record set on March 2, 1962. The 100 points came on 36-of-63 shots from the field and 28-of-32 from the line.

But 118 games of 50 or more points? The Big Dipper has an 87-game gap between him and Michael Jordan, who was easily the NBA's greatest scorer we’ve ever seen apart from Chamberlain himself. It’s nearly impossible to imagine that any player in the NBA right now or in the future can top this.

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Consider how Chamberlain once averaged 50.4 points per game in the 1961-62 season. That’s an absurd number that will likely never be surpassed as well. He topped the 50-point marker 45 times during that year, including 60 or more points in 15 games.

Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points (or 30.07) per game for his NBA career, second only to Jordan, who was ahead by a few decimal points (30.12).

Also Read: NBA MVP race 2020-21: Top 5 favorites for the award right now

Published 12 Jan 2021, 21:14 IST
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