The NBA playoffs are where good players become legends. The only thing that matters is to win, not how you win or many shots you have to take. You just gotta do your job.
That's why some players take it upon themselves to carry the load when the rest of their teammates aren't doing enough. Sadly, hero-ball doesn't always work in the postseason and their heroics go to waste.
Throughout history, we've witnessed some incredible offensive outbursts that weren't enough to get a playoff win, and today, we're going to honor them by letting you know about the top 10 players with the most points in a playoff loss.
10. Billy Cunningham - 50 PTS
Younger fans may not know much about Billy Cunningham but he's considered one of the greatest players in Philadelphia 76ers history and for very good reasons. For starters, he was a walking bucket for most of his career.
Cunningham's finest playoff performance came on April 1, 1970, against the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 50 points with 10 rebounds on 56.4% shooting but the Sixers still lost 118-111.
9. Michael Jordan - 50 PTS
It took Michael Jordan a while before finding success in the postseason. The Chicago Bulls teams were far from competitive and he had to do most of the work just to keep them in games.
Jordan had a majestic scoring outburst on May 5, 1989, vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 50 points with 4 assists, and 3 steals. Sadly, the Cavaliers still beat them 108-105 to even up the series at 2 games apiece.
8. Kobe Bryant - 50
Kobe Bryant was one of the fearless and most competitive scorers in NBA history. He was going to take as many shots as it took to will the Los Angeles Lakers to a win, but that didn't always work.
One of Kobe's most iconic playoff performances came on May 4, 2006, during a loss to the Phoenix Suns. He had 50 with 5 assists and 5 three-pointers and shot 57% from the floor but the Lakers still lost 126-118.
7. Jamal Murray - 50 PTS
Jamal Murray took his game to a whole new level last season in the bubble, and that's why many people expected him to keep his feet on the gas this year and break out as one of the best scorers in the league.
Murray went back and forth with Donovan Mitchell on August 23, 2020, scoring a career-best 50 points with 9 three-pointers on 58% shooting. At the end of the day, it was Mitchell and the Jazz the ones to celebrate, as they beat the Nuggets 129-127.
6. Ray Allen - 51 PTS
Ray Allen was way more than just a spot-up shooter and a catch-and-shoot kind of guy. During his prime, he was aggressive, drove to the rim, and scored efficiently from all three levels.
His skillset was in full display back on April 30, 2009, when the Boston Celtics faced the Chicago Bulls. He had 51 points, 3 steals, and 9 triples but his team lost 128-127 and had to play seven games.
5. Russell Westbrook - 51 PTS
Unsurprisingly, Russell Westbrook is the only player on this list that had a 50+ point triple-double in a playoff loss. Also unsurprisingly, he's the only one who shot worst than 50% from the floor.
Westbrook had 51 points (on 43 shots), 10 rebounds, and 13 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Houston Rockets on April 19, 2017, but sadly, it wasn't enough. His team lost 115-111 and fell to a 0-2 hole.
4. LeBron James - 51 PTS
The Golden State Warriors' strategy to stop LeBron James was simple: Don't stop him at all, just don't let him feed his teammates. That worked pretty well on May 31, 2018, during the NBA Finals.
LeBron had one of the best playoff performances of his career, scoring 51 points with 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on 59% from the floor. Still, the Warriors took Game 1 with a 128-118 win.
3. Damian Lillard - 55
Damian Lillard is the most recent addition to this list. He went completely bonkers against the Denver Nuggets and forced overtime (twice) with heavily-contested pull-up three-pointers from 30 feet.
Lillard's best playoff game came on June 1, 2021, when he recorded the only 55+ point, 10+ assist game in playoff history and also set the record for most three-pointers (12) in a playoff game. Also, he did that on 70.8% shooting. Sadly, the Nuggets still won 147-140.
2. Donovan Mitchell - 57 PTS
Donovan Mitchell had one of the best performances in the bubble but that wasn't enough to prevent his Utah Jazz from blowing a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
Back on August 17, 2021, Mitchell was simply unconscious with 57 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, and 6 triples on 57% shooting. He did everything he could to beat the Nuggets but his team still lost 135-125.
1. Michael Jordan - 63 PTS
And, obviously, this list wouldn't be complete without the game that put Michael Jordan in the public eye. April 20, 1986, was the day Larry Bird said that he was 'God disguised as Michael Jordan'.
The Chicago Bulls were a flawed team but Jordan wasn't going to let that get in the way. He punished the Boston Celtics with an NBA playoff record of 63 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks on 53% shooting. Still, the Celtics beat them 135-131 in a double-overtime instant classic.