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NBA

Best players in NBA history that never scored 50 points in a single game

Including the regular season and playoffs, 145 different players in NBA history have score 50 points in a playoff game.

Five players - Charles Barkley, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Sleepy Floyd and Billy Cunningham - did it in the playoffs without every doing it in the regular season.

And while most of the game's greatest players scored 50 at least once, there are several big-time stars that never managed to pull it off.

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett (Getty Images)

Kevin Garnett

Career high: 47 points

Kevin Garnett's career high came on January 4, 2005 in a loss to the Phoenix Suns. A 15-time All-Star, Garnett's career high for highest scoring average in a single season was 24.2 in 2003-04 when he was named MVP.

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson (Getty Images)

Magic Johnson

Career high: 46 points

Considering that Johnson scord 42 points in the NBA Finals as a rookie in 1980, it's somewhat surprising that he never mustered a 50-point game even if he was never truly known for his scoring. The highest-scoring game of his career came on December 23, 1986 when he finished with 46 points in an overtime win over the Sacramento Kings.

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard (Getty Images)

Kawhi Leonard

Career high: 45 points

Kawhi Leonard rang in the New Year on style in 2019 as he scored a career-high 45 points against the Jazz on January 1. The most points he scored as a member of the San Antonio Spurs was 43 which he did in a playoff game against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2017.

Chris Paul
Chris Paul (Getty Images)

Chris Paul

Career high: 43 points

Like Magic Johnson before him, Chris Paul is obviously not known first as a prolific scorer. He has after all only averaged over 20 points per game twice in his career. And yet given his ability to take over games, he certainly had the ability to drop 50. His career high is 43 points, which he did twice with the New Orleans Hornets. It's perhaps fitting that one of the two games came against the Golden State Warriors who were led in scoring in that game by Jamal Crawford, a future teammate of Paul's in Los Angeles, who has 50-point games with three different franchises (Bulls, Knicks, Warriors).

Bill Russell
Bill Russell (Getty Images)

Bill Russell

Career high: 37 points

Russell impacted the game in ways that extended far beyond scoring. Not only did he never notch a 50-point game, he never recorded a 40-point game either as he topped out at 37 points which he did twice. It's fitting that the first of his career highs came in a win over Wilt Chamberlain, a player far more known for his scoring yet one that Russell handily owned an advantage when it came to head-to-head wins. Chamberlain scored at least 50 points in a game 122 times in his career.

Julius Erving
Julius Erving (Getty Images)

Julius Erving

Career high: 45 points

Erving never scored 50 points while playing in the NBA, topping out at 45 in a game against the Celtics on November 1, 1980. Of course, Dr. J's best days as a scorer came while playing in the ABA where he won three scoring titles in five years prior to finally joining the NBA. Erving had four 50-point games in the ABA, the highest-scoring of which came on Valentine's Day in 1975 when he hung 63 points on the San Diego Conquistadors in a game that his team, the New York Nets, lost 176-166.

Paul Arizin
Paul Arizin (Getty Images)

Paul Arizin

Career high: 49 points

You can make a case that Paul Arizin is the most prolific scorer never to drop 50 in an NBA game as his career scoring average of 22.8 is the highest by any player never to score 50. He came up just a single point short, finishing with 49 in a loss to Bill Russell and the Celtics in 1961. A two-time scoring champion, Arizin made the All-Star team in each of his 10 seasons in the league.

Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh (Getty Images)

Chris Bosh

Career high: 44 points

Nine of Bosh's 10 career 40-point games came while playing for the Toronto Raptors including his career-high 44 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 20, 2010.

Steve Nash
Steve Nash (Getty Images)

Steve Nash

Career high: 42 points

Watching James Harden light up the league playing for Mike D'Antoni, it's somewhat hard to fathom that Steve Nash never had a 50-point game.In fact, he only had two 40-point games, both of which came within a three-week span of each other in December 2006. Both Nash and D'Antoni has gone on the record of saying he wish he would have taken more 3s in the way that players like Harden and Stephen Curry do in present day.

Walt Bellamy
Walt Bellamy (Getty Images)

Walt Bellamy

Career high: 48 points

Midway through his rookie season in 1961-62, Walt Bellamy scored 48 points against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the best game of a Rookie of the Year season in which he averaged more points than every player in the NBA not named Wilt Chamberlain. That he never again scored more than that (he did have another 48-point game) is a stunner considering the start to his career.

Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol (Getty Images)

Pau Gasol

Career high: 46 points

Pau Gasol's best scoring effort came while playing for the Chicago Bulls. He went for 46 points and 18 rebounds against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on January 10, 2015. His highest-scoring game with the Grizzlies was 44 while the most he ever scored playing alongside Kobe Bryant with the Lakers was 36.

Gary Payton
Gary Payton (Getty Images)

Gary Payton

Career high: 44 points

Gary Payton might be a casualty of the era he played in as scoring during the 1990s and early 2000s wasn't exactly at an all-time high. Payton's career high of 44 points came in 2001 against Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves.

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard (Getty Images)

Dwight Howard

Career high: 46 points

Howard's best career offensive game came against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 playoffs when he went for 46 points on 16-23 shooting. All six of Howard's 40-point games occurred while playing for the Orlando Magic.

Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen (Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen

Career high: 47 points

In Michael Jordan's shadow for a majority of his career, it's probably not much of a surprise that Pippen never scored 50 in a game. His career high of 47 points didn't come during one of Jordan's retirements, but rather in a game alongside Jordan. Pippen torched the Denver Nuggets on February 18, 1997 in a game that Jordan finished with 24 points and 12 assists.

Mitch Richmond
Mitch Richmond (Getty Images)

Mitch Richmond

Career high: 47 points

A Hall of Fame scoring guard that starred on one of the league's highest-scoring teams while a member of the famed Run TMC alongside Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway, Richmond dropped 47 as a rookie in the spring of 1989 and never again scored more. He would go on to finish in the top five in scoring in back-to-back season in 1996-97 and 1997-98 with the Sacramento Kings.

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