Top Stories

Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard headline 21 best stat lines from 2021

As the year comes to a close, here are 21 of the top individual performances.

Stephen Curry posted the highest-scoring game of 2021 with his career-high 62 point game against the Blazers on Jan. 3.

As 2021 draws to a close, it is Year in Review time, where we take a look at the best of the past year before getting ready to begin 2022.

Below are 21 of the top stat lines from the 2021 calendar year. They are not presented in any ranked order, but rather broken down by category.

60+ Point Games

Anytime a player drops 60 points, it’s a guarantee they are making the stat lines of the year list. Here are the three from 2021.

Stephen Curry: Jan. 3, 2021, Golden State vs. Portland
62 PTS, 18-31 FG, 8-16 3P, 18-19 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, +20, 36 MIN

It took Curry only three days to lock up at least one spot (spoiler alert – there’s more Steph on the way) on this year-end list as he dropped a career-high 62 points in Golden State’s win over Portland on Jan. 3. Curry led all players with four games with 50+ points in 2021, but none higher than this one.

Bradley Beal: Jan. 6, 2021, Washington at Philadelphia
60 PTS, 20-35 FG, 7-10 3P. 13-15 FT, 7 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, -9, 38 MIN

Three days after Steph went for 62, Bradley Beal put up a 60-point game of his own as the two jockeyed for the 2020-21 scoring title before Steph eventually pulled away. Beal holds the distinction of having the only 60-point game of the season on the road, and the only one coming in a loss as the Wizards fell to the Sixers despite Beal’s efforts.

Jayson Tatum: April 30, 2021, Boston vs. San Antonio
60 PTS, 20-37 FG, 5-7 3P, 15-17 FT, 8 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK, +6, 45 MIN

Tatum posted five games with 40 or more points in 2021, three of them came during a three-week run in April, capped off by his career-best 60 points in Boston’s win over San Antonio on April 30. Tatum’s seven 3-point attempts are the fewest in a 60-point game since Kobe Bryant in 2009.

50+ Point Games

After the three 60-point games, there were 16 more 50+ point performances in 2021, headlining by a championship-clinching performance for the ages.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: July 20, 2021, Milwaukee vs. Phoenix (NBA Finals, Game 6)
50 PTS, 16-25 FG, 1-3 3P, 17-19 FT, 14 REB, 2 AST, 5 BLK, +10, 42 MIN

Giannis scored 50 points in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals to clinch Milwaukee’s first title in 50 years. Giannis tied Hall of Famer Bob Pettit’s record of 50 points in a close-out game and did so in spectacular fashion, adding 14 boards, five blocks and shooting 17-19 at the free-throw line. Since 1983, only two other players have posted 50+ points, 14+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in a game and neither of the other two had the stakes of a Finals clincher.

Joel Embiid: Feb. 19, 2021, Philadelphia vs. Chicago
50 PTS, 17-26 FG, 1-2 3P, 15-17 FT, 17 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 4 BLK, +22, 35 MIN

Joel Embiid not only scored a career-best 50 points to lead the Sixers past Chicago, he stuffed the stat sheet in a dominant performance on both ends of the court. No player has hit those marks or better in a game dating back to the 1983-84 season; the closest was Anthony Davis in 2016 (50 PTS, 15 REB, 5 AST, 5 STL, 4 BLK). If we drop the thresholds down to 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, we only get three more players (Dwyane Wade, Chris Webber, LeBron James).

Nikola Jokic: Feb. 6, 2021, Denver at Sacramento
50 PTS, 20-33 FG, 3-6 3P, 7-7 FT, 7 REB, 12 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, +2, 41 MIN

Jokic — who would go on to be named league MVP in June — scored a career-high 50 points and dished out 12 assists in Denver’s loss to Sacramento. Jokic scored nearly half of those points (23) in the fourth quarter to try to rally his team to the win. Jokic’s performance was one of five games in 2021 with at least 50 points and 10 assists, but none were higher than Jokic’s 12 dimes.

Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic took his game to another level in 2021.

Veterans Facing Former Teams

LeBron James: Jan. 25, 2021, Lakers at Cavaliers
46 PTS, 19-26 FG, 7-11 3P, 1-2 FT, 8 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK, 38 MIN

While LeBron James spent 11 seasons in Cleveland (his first seven seasons, then a four-year stretch from 2014-2018 making the Finals each year), he has posted some of his best scoring performances against his former team. In fact, LeBron has averaged 29.1 points per game in 17 career games against the Cavs — his highest average against any opponent for his career. That mark got a boost in January as LeBron posted his second-highest scoring game as a Laker when L.A. visited Cleveland. His highest mark also came against a former team — the Miami Heat — back in 2018.

Chris Paul: June 30, 2021, Suns at Clippers (Western Conference finals, Game 6)
41 PTS, 16-24 FG, 7-8 3P, 2-3 FT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL, 35 MINU

After spending six seasons with the LA Clippers from 2011-2017, Chris Paul spent two seasons in Houston and one in OKC before settling in Phoenix last season to help lead the Suns to their first Finals appearance since 1993. The road to the NBA Finals went through LA as Paul matched his playoff career-high with 41 points in the series-clinching Game 6 win at Staples Center.

3-Point Barrages

There were a total of 14 games this calendar year in which a player knocked down at least 10 3-pointers — and Stephen Curry accounted for half of them as he was the only player with multiple games of 10+ 3s made this year. However, Curry does not take the mark for the most 3-pointer made in a single game in 2021. That goes to Damian Lillard.

Damian Lillard: June 1, 2021, Portland at Denver (First Round, Game 5)
55 PTS, 10 AST, 6 REB, 3 BLK, 1 STL, 17-24 FG, 12-17 3P, 9-10 FT, 52 MIN, +2

Lillard scored a playoff career-high 55 points as he knocked down clutch basket after clutch basket in a double-overtime classic against the Denver Nuggets. Here is the list of players to have posted a game with 55+ points and 10+ assists since the 1983-84 season: James Harden (3x), Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Michael Jordan and Damian Lillard. Here is the list of those games that have come in the playoffs: Damian Lillard.

Damian Lillard erupts for 55 points in one of the all-time playoff performances.

Fred VanVleet: Feb. 2, 2021, Toronto at Orlando
54 PTS, 17-23 FG, 11-14 3P, 9-9 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL, 3 BLK, +20, 37 MIN

No undrafted player has ever scored more points in an NBA game than Fred VanVleet’s career-high 54 against Orlando in early February. According to Elias, VanVleet’s performance topped the 53 points Hall of Famer Moses Malone set on the exact same date 39 years earlier. The 54 points marked a franchise record for the Raptors and included a career-best 11 3-pointers made (in only 14 attempts, he made 11 of his first 12) from VanVleet.

Stephen Curry: April 14, 2021, Golden State at Oklahoma City
42 PTS, 14-20 FG, 11-16 3P, 3-3 FT, 6 REB, 8 AST, +31, 29 MIN

When it comes to 3-point shooting, Steph Curry owns just about every accolade. In April 2021, he had one of the greatest 3-point shooting stretches the league has ever seen with four games of 10+ 3-pointers made in a five-game stretch (April 12-19). In the middle of that run was this gem against OKC in which Curry scored 42 points in just 29 minutes (25 points in the third quarter on perfect shooting) and knocked down 11 3s in just 16 attempts. This capped off a three-game stretch in which Curry made 29 3s – the most for a three-game span in league history.

Terrific Triple-Doubles

The 2021 calendar year featured four 40-point triple-doubles, two of which stood out from the 2021 postseason.

Kevin Durant: June 15, 2021, Brooklyn vs. Milwaukee (Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 5)
49 PTS, 16-23 FG, 4-9 3P, 13-16 FT, 17 REB, 10 AST, 3 STL, 2 BLK, +6, 48 MIN

Durant played every second of Brooklyn’s Game 5 win over Milwaukee to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals as he finished one point shy of his playoff career high and posted just his second career playoff triple-double.

Devin Booker: June 20, 2021, Phoenix vs. LA Clippers (Game 1, Western Conference finals)
40 PTS, 15-29 FG, 3-7 3P, 7-7 FT, 13 REB, 11 AST, +6, 44 MIN

Booker picked a great time to post his first career triple-double as his 40-13-11 performance helped the Suns overcome Chris Paul’s absence and win Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Booker and the Suns would win the series in six games to advance to the Finals in Booker’s first playoff run of his career.

Of all the triple-doubles recorded in 2021, only one was the record-breaker, courtesy of the new Mr. Triple-Double.

Russell Westbrook: May 10, 2021, Washington at Atlanta
28 PTS, 10-22 FG, 3-7 3P, 5-5 FT, 13 REB, 21 AST, -1, 40 MIN

Russell Westbrook racked up 44 triple-doubles during the 2021 calendar year as he became the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader with No. 182 of his regular-season career on May 10 in Atlanta. While this was not Westbrook’s most spectacular triple-double in terms of the stats he accumulated, it marked the culmination of his pursuit of Oscar Robertson’s long-standing record. A few other Westbrook triple-double notes: He and Luka Doncic were the only players to post a 30-20-10 triple-double in 2021; they were also the only players to post a 15-15-15 triple-double in 2021.

Luka Doncic: May 1, 2021, Dallas vs. Washington
31 PTS, 12-23 FG, 1-6 3P, 6-11 FT, 12 REB, 20 AST, +6, 39 MIN

Doncic capped off his monster triple-double with his 20th assist of the night on the go-ahead 3-pointer to Dorian Finney-Smith in Dallas’ 125-124 win over Westbrook and the Wizards. This was Luka’s 35th career triple-double — the fourth-year pro now stands at 38 triple-doubles in 220 career games played (17.3%). Doncic ranks 11th on the all-time triple-double list and fifth among active players. Westbrook (192 triple-doubles in 979 career games, 19.65) may put the record to a level that can’t be caught, but Doncic may have the best shot of any active player at challenging the mark if he maintains his pace.

Single-Category Leaders

The games that featured the most assists (24), most steals (10) and most blocks (10) also came as part of a triple-double.

Russell Westbrook: May 3, 2021, Washington vs. Indiana
14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4-4 3P, 21 REB, 24 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, +21, 39 MIN

Westbrook posted just the third game in NBA history with at least 20 rebounds and 20 assists — he (2019) and Wilt Chamberlain (1968) account for the other two — as the Wizards beat the Pacers 154-141. Westbrook’s eight field-goal attempts were his fewest since October 2017; he’s had four such games this season since joining the Lakers.

TJ McConnell: March 3, 2021, Indiana at Cleveland
16 PTS, 8-8 FG, 4 REB, 13 AST, 10 STL, 1 BLK, +14, 36 MIN

How rare is a triple-double that includes 10+ steals? Since the 1983-84 season, there had been 10 such games before McConnell’s game on March 3 in Cleveland. There were three points-rebounds-steals triple-doubles (the last recorded by Kendall Gill in 1999), five points-assists-steals triple-doubles (the last recorded by Mookie Blaylock in 1998) and then the very rare rebounds-assists-steals triple-double (last done by Draymond Green in 2017 in the only triple-double without points in NBA history, and the other by Alvin Robertson in 1986 as part of only four quadruple-doubles in league history). It’s worth noting that steals and blocks did not become official stats until the 1973-74 season.

Clint Capela: Jan. 22, 2021, Atlanta at Minnesota
13 PTS, 5-11 FG, 3-6 FT, 19 REB, 10 BLK, 1 STL, +14, 30 MIN

Capela had the biggest block party of 2021 with 10 shot denials as part of his first career triple-double to help the Hawks defeat the Timberwolves. Capela became the third player in Hawks history to block at least 10 shots in a game, joining Dikembe Mutombo and Josh Smith.

Enes Freedom: April 10, 2021, Portland vs. Detroit
24 PTS, 9-16 FG, 6-8 FT, 30 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, +19, 37 MIN

There were five games with 25 or more boards during the 2021 calendar year, led by Enes Freedom’s career-best and franchise-record 30 rebounds to help the Blazers earn a win over Detroit. Freedom finished with 12 offensive rebounds and had 15 second-chance points on the night — more than the entire Pistons squad (14) in the game.

30-20 Games

We have to give a nod to the big men holding it down in the paint, racking up points and cleaning the glass. There were 29 games when a player notched at least 20 points and 20 boards in 2021, but only four 30-20 games. Two of those games come from the two players that have won the three Kia MVPs (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic), but since both of them already have a spot in this year-end celebration, let’s spotlight the two highest-scoring 30-20 games of the season.

Andre Drummond: Jan. 15, 2021, Cleveland vs. New York
33 PTS, 10-18 FG, 13-19 FT, 23 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK, + 12, 40 MIN

Drummond matched his career-high with 33 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to help the Cavs defeat the Knicks. It was the fourth 30-20 game of Drummond’s career and the first for the Cavs since Carlos Boozer in 2004. Only DeMarcus Cousins (10), Anthony Davis (6) and Karl-Anthony Town (5) have more 30-20 games since Drummond entered the league in 2012-13.

Jonas Valanciunas: April 11, 2021, Memphis vs. Indiana
34 PTS, 16-25 FG, 2-2 FT, 22 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK, -12, 32 MIN

Valanciunas recorded four 20-20 games in 2021, tied with Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert for the most in the NBA over the past 12 months. On this night, Valanciunas matched his then career-high with 34 points (he scored 39 in November) and corralled 22 boards as he led a Memphis rally that came up just short against the Pacers.