Corey Brewer didn’t expect to score 51 in the Timberwolves’ 112-110 win over Houston on Friday night. Heck, he never expected to score 50 in an NBA game, period. That’s not his style. He’s not depended on to put up big scoring totals every night—never has been at this level. In fact, he said he hasn’t put up 50 in a game since high school.
So Brewer wasn’t thinking he’d do it when he had 26 at halftime. He wasn’t convinced he’d have a shot when he had 38 after three. And when Kevin Martin told him he could join the club—meaning the 50-Point Club only Martin and Kevin Love have membership to on this Timberwolves team—Brewer just shrugged it off.
“I was just playing—I wasn’t thinking about it until someone said you have 44, you could get 50 tonight,” Brewer said. “I was like, OK, whatever, then I actually got 50.”
In the process, he tied Love’s franchise record for most points in a single game. And he’s the only Wolves player in team history to score 50 in regulation.
It was an evening like no other for Brewer, who unassumingly became the focal point of a Timberwolves offense that, between the absence of Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Chase Budinger and Shabazz Muhammad due to injury was missing about 74 of their regular points per game, needed someone to take control. Someone to take the shots.
Brewer did just that. He slashed, he forced the issue, he got to the free-throw line and he got out in transition as we’ve seen so often this year. He took control on a night someone needed to, and he willed the Timberwolves to victory over a Rockets team that very much needed this win to keep a comfortable hold on home court advantage in the playoffs.
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On this night, Houston would have to settle for defeat. Brewer was a major factor in that. Since he re-joined the Wolves this offseason he’s had his ups and downs production-wise, but his energy and determination have never waned. The Wolves know what they’ll get out of Brewer every night, and that’s raw energy. He can run for miles, it seems, and on Friday night his determination led to a Timberwolves victory.
“He deserved to have 51 points tonight,” said center Gorgui Dieng, who, by the way, hit the game-winner with 4.6 seconds left. More to come on that this weekend on Timberwolves.com. “He carried the team.”
A couple nights ago when the Bulls were in town, coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned he thought Brewer had a certain intangible about him that all winning teams need to have. He does whatever it takes to win—normally, that’s playing solid defense or running the fast break. On this night, out of character, it was putting up 51. But he’s always got desire inside to succeed, and he gives his team maximum effort every night.
Ricky Rubio said he had “no words” to describe Brewer’s performance. On his way off the court, Rubio nearly too Brewer out while jumping on board for a piggy-back ride in excitement while Brewer did a television interview. Rubio’s enthusiasm shows just how much they believe in Brewer on this team.
How impressive was Brewer’s night? According to ESPN Stats, Brewer is one of four players since 1973-74 to put up 50-plus points and six-plus steals in a game. The other three? Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry.
Pretty good company, and good enough to prompt veteran coach Rick Adelman—who has been in the NBA since the early 1980s—to say it’s one of the top performances he’s witnessed.
“It’s way up there, I’ll tell you. I mean really, it’s a guy who’s done his role and everything else,” Adelman said. “I don’t think they knew what to do with him. I don’t think we knew what to do with him. H was just going and flying around and squeezing and using his body, his leanness, to get through those gaps. And then he hits the 3 at the end of the first half and banks it in. Give him credit. He set the tone for the whole night.”
Brewer was borderline stunned in his postgame interview. He said he was joking pregame that with all the injuries he would put up 30 tonight—not thinking it would come true. Then he hit 30, then 40, then 50.
He had a standing ovation as he hit a free throw to reach the 50-point plateau, then an even louder roar when he hit 51.
It was a Don’t Blink moment he’ll likely never forget.
“The energy was great tonight, you know, the fans were behind me,” Brewer said. “I could hear them saying get 50, get 50. When you get 50, you know, it’s kind of been a disappointing year for us. To give the fans something to cheer about means a lot.”
In so many ways, this was the Timberwolves’ night. They knocked off a playoff-bound Rockets team that had beaten them three times this season. They continue to play some of their best basketball of the year—even short-handed—and are in the midst of a stretch that includes beating the Rockets, Grizzlies, Heat and Spurs.
But when fans look back on it, this is Corey Brewer’s evening. He did something only one other Wolves player—a great one at that—has done in 25 years. And he did it in a victory.
The Rockets simply didn’t have enough to keep up.
“Everybody’s so happy [for him], you know?” Rubio said. “Running up and down, seems like he had energy forever, and he never stops. It’s just, I don’t know how he was doing it, but [he was] getting to the rim every time, and it was fun.”