LeBron James scored 44 points in Game One of the NBA Finals last Thursday in his team’s 108-100 loss to Golden State. Here’s six stats you may not know about players who scored 40 or more points in an NBA Finals game that their team lost.
1. James’ 44 points were the second most for a player in the NBA Finals in a game his team lost. Jerry West twice had 45 points in an NBA Finals game that his Lakers lost. He did it April 19, 1965 in a loss to the Celtics; he also did it one year later on April 22, 1966 in a title series game loss to those same Celtics.
2. The last player to score 40-plus points in an NBA Finals game loss was on June 19, 2012 when Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook had 43 against Miami in a thunder defeat.
3. A player from the losing team in an NBA Finals game has scored 40-plus points 16 times since 1964 (records from basketball-reference.com). Three players did it multiple times: Jerry West did it four times; Rick Barry and Michael Jordan each did it twice. These three players each did it twice in the same series; Barry in 1967, West in 1969 and Jordan in 1993.
4. Youngest player to accomplish this feat was Barry (23 years and 23 days)… oldest was West (30 years and 342 days).
5. Of the 16 times a player scored 40+points in an NBA Finals game loss, nine happened at home, seven in an away game.
6. The Boston Celtics were the opponent that won in four of these 16 games; Philadelphia was the opponent three times.
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Back on January 28, Cleveland Cavalier point guard Kyrie Irving scored 55 points in a win over Portland. The 55 points in a game are the most scored by an NBA player in a game this season.
The 22-year-old Irving, who turns 23 later this month, just missed a mark by two points in that game. According to research done on basketball-reference.com, Irving’s 55 points fell two points short of the most points scored by a 22-year-old, 57, by Rick Barry in an October, 1966 NBA game.
Just two months earlier, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant scored 44 points in a loss to Golden State. Kobe’s 44 points as a 36-year-old fell one point short of Shaquille O’Neal’s 45 points he scored at the age of 36 in a February, 2009 contest against Toronto.
Let’s take a look at the most points scored in an NBA game by players ages 18 through 44. Note: Since the research for this stat was done on basketball-reference.com, these stats only go from the 1963-64 season until today. Obviously a 25-year-old Wilt Chamberlain would top the list of most points scored by an NBA player age 25 when he tallied 100 on March 2, 1962.
Here’s a look at the most points scored in an NBA game by each age group from 1963-64 to today.
Age, Player, Points Scored
18: LeBron James, 37
19: Cliff Robinson, 45
20: LeBron James, 56
21: Rick Barry, 57
22: Rick Barry, 57
23: David Thompson, 73
24: Tracy McGrady, 62
25: George Gervin, 63
26: Karl Malone, 61
27: Kobe Bryant, 81
28: David Robinson, 71
29: Pete Maravich, 68
30: Kobe Bryant, 61
31: Wilt Chamberlain, 68
32: Wilt Chamberlain, 66
33: Rick Barry, 55
34: Karl Malone, 56
35: Alex English, 51
36: Shaquille O’Neal, 45
37: Karl Malone, 41
38: Michael Jordan, 45
39: Michael Jordan, 45
40: Michael Jordan, 43
41: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 25
42: Robert Parrish, 16
43: Robert Parrish, 12
44: Kevin Willis, 6
Note: The totals above reflect only regular season games. If we include playoff games, there would be a handful of changes on the leaderboard: Karl Malone scored 50 points in a playoff contest at age 36; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 26 points at age 41 in a playoff game; and Abdul-Jabbar scored 24 points at age 42 in another playoff game.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp