Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose had quite the journey to the first 50-point game of his career.
Seven years after he became the youngest player to win the NBA’s MVP award and six years since he last averaged more than 20 points per game, Rose delivered one of the more surprising NBA performances in recent memory. The 30-year-old tallied 50 points on 31 shots, nailing four-of-seven three-pointers and shooting 8-11 from the free throw line.
Rose put the cherry on top of his career night with two go-ahead buckets in the final minute of the fourth quarter, pushing the Timberwolves to a 128-125 win.
Rose has spent the past two seasons on one-year deals with two different teams and even had to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers last season to consider his future with basketball. Considering his fall from MVP-grace, it is understandable to see why Rose was overcome with emotion on Tuesday night.
Inspired by Rose’s unexpected performance, here are some of the most surprising 50-point games since the turn of the century.
Kobe Bryant ends career with 60-point night at Staples Center
No stranger to 50-point games, Bryant dazzled us with an 81-point game and seven 50-plus point performances in the span of a month. Yet, his most surprising show of scoring might be his final one, when he said goodbye to the NBA with a 60-point game against the Utah Jazz in April of 2016.
It had been over seven years since Bryant last scored 50 points in a game, and the season had not been treating him particularly well, either. He was averaging under 17 ppg on just 35 percent shooting.
It took him 50 shots to get there – the most in an NBA game since the 1960’s – but with a go-ahead jumper and a pair of free throws in the final minute of the game, the 37-year-old reached 60 points for just the sixth time in his career. The game put Bryant’s name in the record books one last time as the oldest player (37 years, 234 days) to ever score 60 points in a game.
20-year-old Devin Booker goes for 70
From the oldest player to drop 60-plus, to the youngest.
On March 24, 2017, Devin Booker introduced himself to the NBA history books with a coming-out party for the ages: 70-points against the Celtics at Boston’s TD Garden. The Phoenix Suns guard had certainly showed promise in his first year and a half in the league, but no one was expecting a game like this. Booker hadn’t scored more than 40 points at that time, but put up an astounding 51 points in the second half to give the NBA its first 70-point game in over a decade.
Despite Booker’s 70 points, the Suns somehow managed to lose the game, 130-120.
At 20 years and 145 days old, Booker remains by far the youngest player to ever score 60 points in a game, eclipsing a 23-year-old Michael Jordan.
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Mo Williams pours in 52 at age 32
At 32 years old in 2015, Mo Williams had never averaged more than 20 ppg in any year of his career.
Then, on January 13, the 12 year veteran had the best game of his career, tallying 52 points and easily marking a career-high. Before that, Williams had eclipsed the 40-point mark just twice in his career, both times during the 2009 season.
Corey Brewer’s 51-point night
A career 8.9 ppg and zero All-Star appearances doesn’t necessarily sound like the profile of a 50-point scorer.
Yet, in the final days of the 2013-14 regular season, Corey Brewer dropped 51 points on the Houston Rockets, which set a career-high for the journeyman player on the wing.
Brewer had never eclipsed 30 points prior to his career night against the Rockets.
33-year-old Andre Miller scores 52
Playing for nine different teams, Miller finished his career averaging 12.5 ppg and zero All-Star Game appearances.
He hadn’t scored more than 33 points in over five years, but in January of 2010, Miller (33 years, 317 days old) became the fourth oldest player to score at least 50 points since 2000. The only players older than him – Jordan, Bryant, and Karl Malone – might not have been quite as surprising.
Tony Delk catches fire for 53 points
Delk, who played from 1996-2006, averaged over 10 points for a season just twice before he had the night of his basketball life in 2001.
Playing for the Suns at the time, the guard shot 20-27 from the field and 13-15 from the free throw line en route to a stunning 53-point performance. Delk eclipsed the 50-point plateau without making a single three-pointer.
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