An NBA history lesson: How to lose with style starring the Denver Nuggets

This weekend Marcus Camby had  an impressive and interesting game in Portland’s trouncing of the Suns. Camby pulled down 20 boards to go with no points. One of Denver’s most prominent twitter fans J.R. (@Smooth_Operatah) remembered the last time Camby has a 20+ rebound game to go with no points, which was back when he was in Denver.

On December 5th 2007 Allen Iverson shot an astounding 73% True Shooting Percent and scored 51 points. Couple this with a 20 rebound game for Marcus Camby’s and you have the makings of a crazy game. To me the bizarre part was that the Nuggets lost.  Using Basketball-Reference’s box score database, which includes all regular season games back to the 1985-1986 season and all playoff games back to 1991, I went in search of a game where such a feat had occurred and more importantly where the team managed to lose. The exact criteria I used was a True Shooting percentage of 55% or better for 50 points or more and another player with 20 or more rebounds.

Boston Celtics lose in OT to the Atlanta Hawks 126-123 on February 3rd 1987

It took five extra minutes of play but the Human Highlight Reel  and Willis managed to put up the impressive combo of stats I was looking for. Of course, the end result was victory against the defending champs.

New York Knicks win in OT against the Atlanta Hawks 137-128 on December 7th 1991

The first example of a team getting a 50 point scorer with good numbers and twenty rebounds to go with it to lose. Like before it took overtime and strangely enough the tandem it happened to was Willis and Wilkins!

Denver Nuggets lose to the Chicago Bulls 116-103 on March 24th 1992

His Airness joins the list with the help of the underrated Grant. The Nuggets also make their way onto the list but as the losing team. In 1992 Jordan scoring a lot, Grant rebounding  and the Nuggets losing were all pretty common.

San Antonio Spurs beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-89 on February 21st 1994

One of greatest and shortest lived tandems makes the list. Robinson and Rodman both did what they do best for the victory. Robinson also took down 9 more boards and had 6 blocks for good measure.

Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 106-100 on November 6th 1996

Rodman and Jordan both make it back to the list. In just the fifth game of Rodman joining the Jordan-Pippen-Jackson Bulls Rodman and Jordan put up an impressive line. The end result was a win and given the closeness of the game every rebound and point was needed.

Los Angeles Lakers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 123-103 on March 6th 2000

  • Shaquille O’Neal 23 rebounds (7 offensive)
  • Shaquille O’Neal 61 points (24-35 FG 69%, 0-0 3P 0%, 13-22 FT 59%)

I was obviously looking for tandems when I started this search. Turns out Shaq was able to do it all on his own back in his MVP season. It’s also quite amuing to note that Shaq shot better from the field than from the line and brought down more defensive rebounds than free throws.

Indiana Pacers beat the Sacramento Kings in OT 93-91 on January 5th 2001 (Honorable Mention)

  • Chris Webber 26 rebounds (10 offensive)
  • Chris Webber 51 points (24-47 FG 51%, 0-1 3P 0%, 3-6 FT 50%)

Webber didn’t meet my criteria for True Shooting percentage (55%) but his stat line was still impressive enough I wanted to make sure I included him. He also joins the Nuggets and the Hawks in the loss column, which is definitely sad given an otherwise great game.

Detroit Pistons beat the Chicago Bulls 110-83 on April 3rd 2001

In 2001 Ben Wallace was the best player in the league on an otherwise abysmal Pistons roster. Jerry Stackhouse on the other hand was not a very good player but he was able to have a very good game. The result was a great game in an otherwise terrible season.

Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 111-107 on December 5th 2007

Camby was no stranger to rebounding. Iverson was no stranger to scoring. However, Iverson managed to shoot efficiently and the result was an impressive game. Of course Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith shot terribly and the Nuggets managed to be the only team in the last 25+ years to lose with a 20+ rebounder and a 55% True Shooter with a 51 point night in a regulation game.

 Summing Up

I was quite happy I was able to find another game to match the Nuggets in losing with such an impressive line. Of course the Nuggets stand alone as the only team to do so in regulation. I also have to give some props to players that appeared multiple times:

  • Dominique Wilikins
  • Kevin Willis,
  • Michael Jordan
  • Dennis Rodman
Thanks again to @Smooth_Operatah for the great idea and if you have other interesting stat lines to look for definitely let us know.


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