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Ben Gordon’s 45-point game was one of the, if not the, most shocking ever

Since the 1985-86 season,* 106 players have produced 457 45-point games. The most recent, of course, was Ben Gordon’s 45-point outburst against the Nuggets on Wednesday.

*As far back as Basketball-Reference’s single-game records go

Gordon’s night drew some national attention, but because Gordon was once a high scorer who already scored 48 points in a game and landed in the 40s or high 30s several other times, nobody went wild. To many, Gordon was just another volume scorer doing what volume scorers sometimes do.

But I don’t think most NBA observers have realized how wide the gulf is between how Gordon once scored and how he scores now. Gordon is no longer a serious scoring threat – and that just makes his 45-point game all the more astonishing.

The average 45-point game came from someone who averaged 27.08 points per game that season. Gordon averages less than half that (12.46 points per game). At the moment, that’s the second-lowest season average for someone who scored 45 points in a game in the sample:

For his 53-point outburst, Tony Delk became somewhat of a folk hero. Although I understand Gordon’s big games with Chicago and huge contract with Detroit will prevent him from getting similar recognition, at this point, his 45-point game might be even more unlikely than Delk reaching the level (though, Delk scoring an extra eight points certainly adds to the mystique of that game).

Because the Pistons’ season isn’t over, Gordon’s 45-point game carries more weight on his scoring average than the other players’ big games do on theirs, and in the shortened season, that will still be somewhat true at year’s end.

The Pistons have 20 games remaining. If Gordon plays in all those and scores 238 or fewer points – an average of 11.9 points per game – he’ll pass Delk. Before Wednesday, Gordon was averaging 11.5 points per game.

Maybe Wednesday was the turning point of Gordon’s Pistons tenure, though I doubt it. Maybe it was a complete aberration, which I expect. We’ll know soon enough.

Either way, Gordon’s 45-point game should receive greater recognition for the incredible spectacle it was.


  • Mar 23, 201210:18 am
    by Steve K


    I was watching Gordon’s play during this road trip. Why on earth would someone do such a thing?
    Because I noticed he was averaging 28+ minutes per game.

    When I saw that stat, I was shocked. I hardly notice Gordon when he’s on the floor.

    So, during this road trip, I followed him during the offensive possessions. Almost every time, Gordon would hover around the three point line, as Stuckey, Monroe, Knight, or Prince worked the ball on the other side of the court. And who can blame them? Those four players have proven this season to be more reliable in working the offense. 

    Yet, Gordon is on this team for one reason – to score. He was yielding every possession to the other guys. I wonder if one of the coaches told him he needs to DEMAND the ball. Be more aggressive. Because it certainly happened in Denver. Yeah, he got the start, but he had plenty of opportunities as a bench player too, with 28 minutes per game.

    Bottom line… I agree that this is likely an aberration, but, if Gordon does demand the ball more, he may at least put together some 20+ point nights.

  • Mar 23, 20121:33 pm
    by Elliot


    Thats exactly what i have been saying.  Gordon needs to be more assertive and call for the ball.  for him to be effective he needs to take AT LEAST 10 plus shots a game.  Tayshaun could sure give up a few shots, as well as Knight as I would like to see him play more like a point Guard.  Its obvious that ben Gorden is still purest shooter and scorer on the team.  He needs the ball and he needs to become more of a focal point of the offense. It would be nice if he played somewhat into his contract or at least well enough that he could become tradable.

    • Mar 23, 20124:31 pm
      by rick77


      I seriously doubt that Tay’s shot’s are affecting how many Gordon throws up. Im not gonna give him that excuse,but I am willing to bet that he has not been as assertive as he was in Chicago. We obviously know why that is at least the last few seasons but this one has been a mystery because last year it was Hamilton taking his time. This year he is splitting minutes with Knight and Stuckey and still no breakout until the Denver game. If basketball was like football Id demand he take a pay cut and come back for less money and see what he can do with a team with an identity and decent frontcourt where the court is spread and he can hit open shots. The contract,instability at coaching, and the team have hindered his sucess as well as him not completely grasping his role on the team. Again in a better situation I think he could reprise his old role,but i wouldnt expect many 30 point games but maybe a lot of 17ppg-27ppg games sprinkled in with the right system. He probably would look good playing with Memphis/Oklahoma/Orlando/Miami/ and even New York because they all drive and kick or either have legitamate big men. I honestly feel that is why he is not putting up the points and because he is a liability witha team that has no defensive stopper. His mistakes are maginified.

  • Mar 23, 20123:43 pm
    by danny


    Most shocking 45+ point performance IMO, is the 2nd of Cliff Robinsons back-to-back 50 point games. He was a solid scorer, but still his first 50 game was a big surprise, so when he scored 50 the very next game, it was downright shocking.

  • Mar 23, 20124:49 pm
    by John


    I’ll give him recognition as an overpaid gagger that is one fo the reasons my beloved squad sucks. Gordon has been horrible in Detroit, I dont care if he went for 90 in that game. Detroit still lost, in part because of his boneheaded play at the end, despite the fact they wouldnt have been in the game without him. It one game, the team lost = who f*cking cares!?!?! Its meaningless and that is the main reason for lack of recognition. Stupid post.

  • Mar 23, 201210:22 pm
    by Max


    It would be more shocking if Charlie V put up 45 again.

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