Sunday, July 22, 2018
Sports

'The rim looked so big'

Few players have ever had the feeling Anthony Davis did Sunday.

The star center scored a franchise-record 59 points and pulled down 20 rebounds in the New Orleans Pelicans' 111-106 win over the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

"That was a lot of fun, because the rim looked so big that it felt like everything I shot was going to go in," Davis said. "I wasn't keeping track of my point total, but the guys were telling me at the timeouts. They wanted me to get 60."

The previous club record was 50 points by Jamal Mashburn exactly 13 years earlier against the Grizzlies. Davis went 24-of-34 from the floor — both career highs — and made his only two 3-pointers. He added nine free throws in 10 attempts.

Davis broke the scoring record for the Palace set by LeBron James with 48 points in an Eastern Conference finals game on June 1, 2007. He joined Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Webber as the only NBA players with 50 points and 20 rebounds in a game since 1983.

"Being in the history books with C-Webb and Shaq? That's something special," Davis said.

And you have to go back to the history books to find an era when such performances were common.

As the Elias Sports Bureau points out: Only three other players scored as many points as Davis in a game of 20 or more rebounds: Shaq's game from 2000, Elgin Baylor twice and Wilt Chamberlain an astounding 33 times — including 17 in the 1961-62 season.

But as Neil Paine concludes, when speaking of those 1960s performances in his statistical breakdown at FiveThirtyEight.com: "The simple truth is that outrageous single-game stat totals were a lot easier to come by in that era.

Davis' big game may end up being the season highlight for the Pelicans, who are unlikely to make the playoffs. Here are some other numbers from Davis' performance:

His 59 points shattered his previous career high of 43.

It was only the second game in Davis' four seasons in the NBA in which he had as many as 20 rebounds. His career high of 21 was set in an overtime game against the Celtics in 2014.

His point total is the seventh-highest in the past 10 seasons, behind a 65 in 2007 and two other games by Kobe Bryant, plus one each from Carmelo Anthony, James and Gilbert Arenas.

By the metric Game Score, which accounts for everything a player does, it was the best game played since Bryant's 81-pointer in 2006. It is the sixth-best game since 1983-84 (the farthest back Game Score is tracked). Davis' Game Score was 53.9. Bryant's was 63.5. The best on record is Michael Jordan's 64.6, from a 69-point game in March 1990.

The total is the biggest of the season, passing DeMarcus Cousins' 56 for the Kings in January.

Contributing: AP, New York Times, ESPN.com, FiveThirtyEight.com.

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