Harden or Luka dropping 40 on someone isn’t that surprising anymore. But every hooper knows a few times in your life a special game happens – you just can’t miss. This is a top 10 list of guys who had the fortune of that night happening under the bright lights of the NBA.
10. Rodrigue Beaubois; 40 PTS/8 TRB/3 AST vs. Dallas – March 27, 2010
There aren’t many NBA players who had a shorter career in the league with a career-high like Rodrigue Beaubois. The French point guard had played a total of 182 NBA games during his four years in Dallas and hasn’t played a single NBA game since.
However, what he did to the Dubs in late March of his rookie season will always be remembered. Beaubois lit the Warriors up by dropping 40 on them. What’s even more impressive is that he did it coming off the bench, playing only 30 minutes in a blowout win in Oracle Arena. Beaubois did it on 22 shots, with 9 of them coming from outside of the three-point line.
A nickname “Roddy Buckets” was formed, with the Mavs thinking that they had found a diamond in the rough. However, his career after that was on a constant decline, with his role slowly decreasing. He went from a dynamic off-ball scorer to a subpar, injury-prone, inefficient point guard who was never able to find his role again.
“Roddy Buckets” never came close to his career performance in Oakland, never again topping 24 points in a single game. However, Beaubois will have a cool story to tell when he reminisces of his short NBA journey.
9. Anthony Morrow, 42 PTS/ 4 TRB/ 2 AST vs. Timberwolves – February 3, 2012
Anthony Morrow had himself a night vs. the Timberwolves back in 2012. The sharpshooter was having a solid season for the New Jersey Nets, as he was mostly coming off the bench. He averaged 12 PPG while hitting .371 of his three-point attempts.
His solid performance throughout the season was exceeded the night they played the T-Wolves. Morrow went off, setting his career-high with 42 points. And he did it extremely efficiently, going 13-for-20 from the field.
Chocolate Reign did it all; he hit eight three-pointers, shot it off the dribble, made some putbacks, hit some transition jumpers, but it all wasn’t enough for the Nets to win, as Kevin Love’s T-Wolves came out on top.
Despite it all, Morrow’s shooting spree was enough for him to make this list, as he never came close to another performance like that in his 11 years in the league.
8. Charlie Villanueva; 48 PTS/ 9 TRB/ 3 AST vs. Bucks – March 26, 2006
Charlie Villanueva had a great rookie campaign; he averaged 13 PPG and 6.4 RPG, finishing second among rookies in points and rebounds. His efforts earned him a spot in the All-Rookie Team, setting himself up for a promising NBA career.
But what Charlie V did in his rookie year vs. Milwaukee led fans to believe that they had a superstar in the making. He tortured the Bucks with 48 points, which at the time was the Raptors‘ rookie record. A 6-11 power forward hit six threes and also grabbed nine rebounds in the process.
His efforts were in vain, as the Raptors lost the game to Michael Redd’s Bucks, but Villanueva had shown a flash of what he could become. Unfortunately for the Raptors fans, his outburst vs. the Bucks was an exception rather than the rule. He crumbled under the standard he had set with his one exceptional scoring clinic.
He had some high scoring games, but his defensive liability, along with his poor rebounding for his size, made him nothing more than a valuable role player for NBA teams. Raptors’ fans were hoping for so much more.
7. Dana Barros; 50 PTS/6 TRB/8 AST vs. Houston – March 14, 1995
Dana Barros’s 1994-95 season was an anomaly in an of itself. It was his sixth season in the league, and he had already established his role as off the bench impact player. However, after the Sonics traded him to the Hornets in exchange for Kendall Gill, and after he got traded two days later to the 76ers, he had started seeing much more playing time under coach John Lucas.
During his days in Seattle, Barros had started in only 28 out of 291 games he had played in. Sixers needed a point guard, and Barros fit the role of easy to acquire solid playmaker. He made a jump in his first year in PA, before fully blossoming the following year, starting in all 82 games, and averaging 20.6 PPG and 7.5 APG, while hitting .464 of his 5.2 3PA.
Dana’s unmatched individual performance came in a losing effort to the Houston Rockets. He dropped 50 points on 26 shots, hitting 6 of his 8 3PA, while also dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds. He lacked help from his teammates, having only two other guys scoring in double digits, ultimately losing to favored Rockets.
Barros was never able to come close to his career night on March 14. He never topped 29 points again, making his night at the Spectrum the ultimate one-game wonder.
6. Corey Brewer; 51 PTS/2 TRB/2 AST vs. Houston – April 11, 2014
Corey Brewer was the ultimate role player. This two-way small forward had played for 8 teams over his 12 seasons in the NBA. He found his niche in the league; provide a defensive presence of the bench, take a limited amount of shots, and be the energy guy. He was never known for his scoring ability, having a career-high of 12 PPG during his third year in the league.
However, what he did on April 11, 2014, vs. the Rockets made it seem like he was the second coming of MJ. Brewer had 51 point outburst while matching his career-high in steals with 6. He hit .633 of his 30 FGA, and went to the free-throw line 15 times, converting 11 of them. Brewer’s career night was enough to beat the favored Rockets.
Corey never came close to his career night, as he never topped 29 points in his career. He remained the ultimate role player, with eternal memory of his 51 points night.
5. Terrence Ross; 51 PTS/9 TRB/ 1 AST vs. Clippers – January 25, 2014
Terrence Ross was in his second year in the NBA. Coming out of the University of Washington, Ross was a young athletic prospect who was starting to make his name in the league. During his sophomore NBA season, he had made a substantial jump from his rookie year and was seeing much more starting minutes in Toronto. His career was developing at an average pace, until his superstar-like performance vs. the Clippers.
Ross exploded for 51 points, tying Vince Carter‘s franchise scoring record set in February of 2000. Ross even had the chance to break VC’s record, but he missed a free throw with four seconds remaining. Nevertheless, it didn’t make Terrence’s performance any less spectacular.
He had an efficient night, shooting 16-for-29 from the field, including a career-high 10 three-pointers on 17 attempts, while going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe, rounding it up with nine rebounds and one assist in 44 minutes of play.
The game had all the Raptors’ fans hyped, but Ross was never able to showcase the same scoring ability as the one vs. the Clippers.
4. Mo Williams; 52 PTS/4 TRB/7 AST vs. Indiana – January 13, 2015
Mo Williams isn’t your typical one-game wonder type of player on this list. This former All-Star had a pretty solid NBA career, with his most memorable years of being second fiddle to LeBron during his first run with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hitman had some great individual scoring performances, but none more impressive than his 52 points game vs. the Pacers, as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mo led his team to a win while dropping a career-high in points. He did it while shooting .576 from the field, having a team-high usage rate of 39.7. Williams also drained six three-pointers and handed out seven assists.
During his short stint with the T-Wolves, Mo averaged 12.2 PPG, which makes his performance vs. Indiana even more impressive. He quadrupled his season average, proving he could still get buckets even in a later stage of his NBA career.
3. Tony Delk; 53 PTS/6 TRB/0 AST vs. Phoenix – January 2, 2001
Tony Delk is another guy who was an established role player. He had made a living of playing backup to the team’s starting point guards, providing a much-needed spark playing in limited minutes.
Delk’s career year was in Phoenix, where he played all 82 games and was very productive in his 28 MPG. He led the bench unit, scoring 12.3 PPG, with a solid all-around performance overall. Jason Kidd was a team’s starting playmaker, and chances of anyone starting over him were slim. That’s why Delk filled the role of his backup, patiently waiting for his opportunity to shine.
The opportunity presented itself on January 2, when the Suns were playing the Kings. Coach Scott Skiles inserted Delk in the starting lineup, and boy did Tony deliver! He led all players in scoring with 53, and he did it extremely efficiently, shooting .741 from the field. Delk didn’t hit a single three-pointer but converted 13 out of 15 free throws he had attempted.
The game went into over-time, but the Kings were too much for Delk’s career scoring performance. He never scored more than 26 in any other game in his remaining nine seasons in the league and returned to being a safe bet off the bench.
2. Willie Burton, 53 PTS/8 TRB/3 AST vs. Heat – December 13, 1994
Willie Burton averaged 7.8 PPG during the 1992-93 season. He showed nothing to make people think he would have a historic scoring outburst. However, Burton proved everyone wrong.
Moose had one of the most surprising scoring performances ever. He dropped 53 points vs. the Heat back in 1994. He did bump his scoring average that year to 15.3, but it wasn’t nearly enough for people to believe he would be the one to break the 50s.
Burton had an amazing shooting performance, going 12-for-19 from the field and hitting five three-pointers. He was also 24-for-28 from the charity stripe, wasting no opportunity to increase his scoring total.
He was extra motivated, as he faced his former team for the third time that season. However, his scoring performance on December 13, 1994, still remains one of the most unlikely scoring eruptions.
1. Brandon Jennings; 55 PTS/5 TRB/5 AST vs. GSW – November 14, 2009
Probably the most expected addition to this list, Brandon Jennings had Bucks fans excited after scoring a double-nickel in his 7th game in the league, surpassing the team record for points scored by a rookie, a record formerly held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jennings also became the youngest player in NBA history to score 55 points in a game.
Coming off a stellar performance against Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets, The Pterodactyl was facing a future unanimous MVP in Steph Curry. He got off to a cold start, missing his first three shots, and scoring zero points in the first 12 minutes of the game. He then went on a historic hot streak, scoring 55 in three quarters, with 29 coming in the 3rd quarter, hitting 12 of 13 shot attempts.
The game vs. the Dubs was a part of the best run Jennings’ career. In the span of five games, Brandon averaged 32 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 7.4 APG, while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and almost 60 percent on threes.
The run was capped off with his historic 55 points performance; the one Jennings will forever be linked with. However, he was never able to reach near the level of play he had shown that night in Bradley Center.