Does a 40-point game help the team win?

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant reacts during their NBA basketball loss to the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, California, January 28, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Dwight Howard’s 46-point, 19-rebound effort in a Game 1 loss to the Hawks got me wondering — when a player scores 40+ points in a game, does it give his team a better chance to win? Conventional wisdom would be yes, it should increase the chances of his team winning, but by how much?

To find some answers, I fired up Basketball-Reference’s excellent Player Game Finder. Here are a few of the more interesting results:

— Since the 1985-86 season (which is as far as BR’s data goes back), a player has scored 40+ points 1,734 times or 66.7 times per season, including the postseason.

— In those games (both regular season and playoff), teams who had a player score 40+ points won 1,205 of 1,734 games (.695) so it does indeed mean a team has a better chance to win.

— A player has scored 40+ in the postseason a total of 148 times. His team won 104 times (.703), so it does not make a huge difference whether or not the game is regular season or postseason when it comes to win %.

— Of the 1,734 games, 893 (51.5%) were by guards, 657 (37.9%) were by forwards and 184 (10.6%) were by centers.

— The most points scored in a game (since 1985) was Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against Toronto in 2006. David Robinson scored 71 against the Clippers in 1994. Michael Jordan scored 69 against the Cavs in 1990. The most points scored in a playoff game in that span was a tie between Charles Barkley (1994 vs. Golden State) and Michael Jordan (1992 vs. Miami), each with 56 points.

— There have been 16 games where a player has scored 60+, and only one player (Michael Jordan, in 1987 and 1993) managed to lose the game. Jordan went for 60+ four times and went 2-2 in those games. All other players were 12-0 when scoring 60+.

— There have been 180 50+ point games since 1985 with a winning percentage of .716.

— The youngest player to score 40+ was LeBron James, who was 19 years, 88 days old. Kevin Durant (19-200), Carmelo Anthony (19-306) are the only other players to score 40+ before they turned 20 years old. Eric Gordon (20-029), Brandon Jennings (20-052) and Shaquille O’Neal (20-347) join them as the only players to score 40+ before they turned 21.

— The fewest field goal attempts needed to score 40+ was 13, a feat accomplished by two players. In 1986, Rolando Blackman 10-of-13 shots from the field and 22-of-23 from the free throw line. Shaq also scored 40+ on 13 shots. He hit 11-of-13 from the field and went 19-of-31 from the free throw line. What is maybe the most surprising, neither player hit a three-pointer! Unsurprisingly, these two games have the highest points per field goal attempt (PTS/FGA) with 3.23 and 3.15, respectively.

— The most shot attempts to reach 40+ points was Michael Jordan’s 49 in 1993. Amazingly, he hit 27 of them (55.1%). Of the 22 games where a 40+ point scorer attempted 40+ shots, the player won just 10 games (.455)

— 772 of 1,774 40+ point games came on the road (43.5%). That means 56.5% of 40-point games come at home, which makes sense because players are generally more comfortable shooting the ball in familiar surroundings.

— During this span, Michael Jordan leads the way with 185 40+ games. Kobe Bryant (118) and Allen Iverson (89) are second and third, respectively.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson (3) drives on the Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi (R) during the third quarter of NBA basketball action in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 15, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

— Amazingly, seven players (Hakeem Olajuwon, Wally Szczerbiak, Chuck Person, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Dennis Scott and Robert Horry) scored 40+ without even making a free throw. Olajuwon did it without making a three-pointer, either!

— Kobe Bryant made the most threes (12) in any 40+ game, and it wasn’t his 81-point game. He hit 12 threes against Seattle in 2003. He “only” had seven threes in his 81-point game.

— Only 17 players scored 40+ without starting the game. J.R. Smith did it three times, while Al Harrington, Ben Gordon and Nate Robinson each did it twice.

— The fewest minutes required to score 40+ was Sleepy Floyd’s 24 minutes in 1991. He somehow managed to hoist 25 shots in 24 minutes. Patrick Ewing was second with 26 minutes. In terms of points per minute, Kobe Bryant’s 1.93 came during his 81-point game. He owns five of the top seven games in points per minute. The top 50 players/games in terms of points per minute had an eye-popping win/loss record of 47-3.

— Two players have scored 40+ in the same game 57 times. Michael Jordan was involved in eight of those games. Allen Iverson was involved in six, while Kobe was involved in four.

— Six games have featured two players scoring 50+ points: Tom Chambers (60)/Patrick Ewing (51) in 1990, Charles Smith (52)/Patrick Ewing (50) in 1990, Michael Jordan (64)/David Robinson (52) in 1992, Kobe Bryant (51)/Antawn Jamison (51) in 2000, Tracy McGrady (52)/Jamal Mashburn (50) in 2003, and Allen Iverson (53)/Vince Carter (51) in 2005.

So that’s about everything you could possibly want to know about the 40+ point game, right? If you have any other questions/ideas, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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