Great players are often defined by the great games they can have on any given night. Sometimes a great game can also be a career highlight for a player who is not exactly the team's primary star. Whatever the case, in a long season full of unmemorable games, we tend to take notice when a player has an extraordinary game.
Kevin Durant has had many of those so far this season, scoring 30 or more points 43 times in the 69 games he has played. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have both topped 60 points leaving the Charlotte Bobcats with even more to forget about this season. Terrence Ross started two games all of last season, but poured in a Toronto Raptors record 51 points in a single game against the LA Clippers earlier this year. It's some of these big performances that can define a player's season.
Kevin Love is putting together quite a season, having four games of over 40 points and 14 or more rebounds. Chris Paul was on a tear earlier this season, before spending some time off due to injury. Anthony Davis is the new kid on the block, providing the potential for a bright future for Pelican fans to look forward to. All of these players have given us some of the best performances of the season. The top ten performances, included three or possibly more by Kevin Durant.
If the MVP vote has anything to do with great performances, Durant might be the player who is currently leading the pack.
10 Kevin Durant, F (OKC Thunder) - 32 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists / December 1st vs. Minnesota
Scoring only 32 points might seem like an off-night for the NBA's leading scorer, but the fact that he only took 17 shots tells a big story about what Durant brought to that game. Durant grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 12 assists, and had 4 blocked shots and steals, becoming the first NBA player to post such numbers, including his 30 plus points. This was certainly a game to showcase his other talents.
"Kevin is a stat filler," said his coach Scott Brooks. "He can do it all and has the ability to have large scoring nights, rebounding, assists and steals, and blocked shots. He's one of the few guys that can do that."
Durant has higher point totals that are even on this list, but a triple-double with four steals and blocked shots is not something you see on any given night.
9 Chris Paul, G (LA Clippers) - 38 points, 12 assists, 3 steals / December 14th @ Washington
Chris Paul might have had better performances, at least when it comes to the stats that he can put up. This game was amazing in the efficiency that Paul had on his way to scoring 38 points. He accomplished this feat by shooting 78.6% from the field on only 14 shots. He made all 11 of his free throw attempts and had 12 assists, while forcing John Wall into 6 turnovers and stealing the ball 3 times. The reason this game ranks so high on this list, is because it only took Paul 33 minutes to make his case.
Paul even shot 71% from 3-point range and had an assist to turnover ratio of 6, to go along with his output in points. All this against John Wall who is no slouch. Chris Paul was only the second player in the last 40 years to have 38 points, 12 assists and 78.6% field goal shooting.
8 Terrence Ross, G/F (Toronto Raptors) - 51 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist / January 25th vs. LA Clippers
Terrence who? If the name doesn't ring a bell, you might not be alone. Terrence Ross has only topped 20 points on five occasions during this whole season. His second best scoring total this season was in a game against the lowly 76ers where he went off for 24 points. In this game against the Clippers, Ross was in the zone. He went on to hit ten 3-point shots, while shooting 58.8% from 3-point range and even managed to make it to the free throw line, where he hit 9 of his 10 attempts. His 9 rebounds were even a season high.
There might be a few performances with better stat lines, but it isn't often that a career 8.4 points per game average scorer tops 50 in a single game. We might not hear much more about Terrence Ross for the rest of the season, but his name can now be linked to some of the best in the game.
"You don't really realize what you're doing until it's all over," said Ross in response to his scoring outburst.
7 Anthony Davis, F/C (New Orleans Pelicans) - 40 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks / March 16th vs. Boston
Anthony Davis was that awe struck kid on the last US Olympic basketball team. Maybe it was those practices with the best, that have prepared him for the NBA game. On this particular night against Boston, Davis set career highs with 40 points and 21 rebounds. What makes this performance by Davis so spectacular is that he scored 40 points without making any threes. He was 14 of 22 from the field and 12 for 12 from the free throw line. In a short amount of time, Davis has become a force to reckon with in the NBA.
The 21-year old is the fourth youngest player in NBA history to have a game with at least 40 points and 20 rebounds. Until the Pelicans can surround him with some more talent, this shouldn't be his last game with numbers like these. Davis is averaging 21.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots per game. Not bad for a guy who just recently turned 21.
6 Chris Paul, G (Los Angeles Clippers) - 42 points, 15 assists, 6 steals / October 31st vs. Golden State
Chris Paul didn't wait long to make a statement to the Warriors. After losing to them three times last year, the Clippers came out on top thanks in large part to a monster game by Chris Paul. Paul hit 12 of 20 shots and 16 of 17 free throws, but it was his 15 assists and 6 steals that helped him control the game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Paul is the only player to score 40 points, have 15 assists and at least 5 steals, since steals were first recorded as a statistic in the 1973-74 season. He is also one of three players (LeBron James and Allen Iverson) to have at least 40 points and 15 assists in a game.
Chris Paul used the Clippers home opener as the stage for his big game. Paul had to battle Stephen Curry, who had 38 points and hit 9 3-pointers, in a shootout in just his second game of the season. Since then, Paul has averaged 18.7 points, 10.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game.
Paul did have 6 turnovers in the game, however, he managed to force Curry to turn the ball over 11 times.
5 Kevin Love, F (Minnesota Timberwolves) - 45 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists / December 22nd @ LA Clippers
Kevin Love has quietly put up one of his best seasons ever. He has scored over 40 points to go along with 19 rebounds, twice so far this season. In 62 games, Love has an astounding 54 double doubles (points and rebounds or assists). In this game, a losing cause against the Clippers, Love shot 65% from the field, hit 86.7% of his free throws and had his season best total in rebounds.
Love did everything he could to pull out the road victory, but the Clippers tied the game in regulation, after being down by four points with 18 seconds left. The Timberwolves went on to lose the game in overtime.
Love is currently averaging 26.4 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, but the surprising part of his season stat-line is his 4.2 assists average, a career best. So far this season, Love has already topped his career best season totals for points, assists and steals.
4 Kevin Durant, F (OKC Thunder) - 54 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists / January 17th vs. Golden State
Davis, Love and Paul had terrific games, but there is something to be said about scoring over 50 points in a game. While Russell Westbrook has been battling injuries, someone on the Thunder has had to replace his lost production. Durant has figured out that he can score 50 points if he simply adds on half of Westbrook's shots. Durant shot about 68% from the field, hit 11 of 13 free throws, and even shot over 50% from 3-point range (5-9). The scoring barrage also came against one of the better teams in the league, the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors tried to keep things close, but Durant scored 11 points in a two-minute stretch during the fourth quarter to put the Thunder up by 17, effectively putting the Warriors away.
Durant summed things up by saying,"When you've got it going, I look at the bench and see how my teammates are reacting, and that just gives me an extra push." Durant added,"Then I hear the fans."
3 Kevin Durant, F (OKC Thunder) - 51 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists / March 21st @ Toronto
In a recent double overtime contest against the dangerous Toronto Raptors, Russell Westbrook had to exit the game. Durant then did what he does best, hitting the game winning 3-point shot with 1.7 seconds left in the second overtime. He ended up hitting 7 of his 12 3-point attempts, despite shooting under 50% with field goals through the entire game. Durant took most of his team's shots, but still managed to be the team leader in rebounds, blocked shots and assists.
While Westbrook has had his problems coming off injury, Durant has been flourishing. He has scored at least 25 points in 34 consecutive games, and is leading the NBA in scoring with 32.2 points per game. Durant has several top games on this list, but few as impressive as his performance in this double overtime game.
2 LeBron James, F (Miami Heat) - 61 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists / March 3rd vs. Charlotte
LeBron James simply has to prove he is "King James" every now and then. Scoring 62 points against Charlotte seems to be a bit more than unfair. James certainly had his A-game going and went on to enjoy a rare outburst. James shot a blistering 66.7% from the field and was 8 for 10 from 3-point land. He was so hot that at one point he was 8 for 8 from the 3-point line. James also hauled in 7 rebounds and managed to set up his teammates a few times (5 assists) along the way to scoring all those points.
Despite all the points, rebounds and assists, James was surprisingly less impressive on the defensive end as he finished without a steal or blocked shot. It's still hard to argue against the performance of a player who torches the opposition with 61 points. The outburst was a career high for James as well as a Miami Heat franchise record.
1 Carmelo Anthony, F (NY Knicks) - 62 points, 13 rebounds, 0 turnovers / January 24th vs. Charlotte
Carmelo Anthony is a scoring machine, but dropping 62 points on the Charlotte Bobcats at the Garden is even unusual for him. Anthony's performance has even been recognized as the top of the year, by ESPN. The 62 points are quite amazing, but the other statistics really help make his case.
- Anthony was 10 for 10 from the foul line
- Anthony shot 65.7% from the field on 23 for 35 shooting
- Anthony had 13 rebounds
- Anthony touched the ball often, but had no turnovers
This historic performance by Anthony broke the Bernard King's Knicks record of 60 and the Madison Square Garden Arena record of 61 set by Kobe Bryant five years ago.
Anthony summed up his performance by exclaiming, "I made history tonight, with that performance, 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."