Now that All-Star Weekend is in the rearview, each NBA team can now look forward to the second half of the season. Teams from each conference will look to jockey for playoff positioning as the season winds down.
Before we head into the season’s second half, however, we wanted to take a look at each NBA team’s best individual performance from the first half of the season. This season has given us our fair share of great performances to choose from so it comes down to which ones stood out above the rest.
Here is the Best Individual Performance from Each NBA Team in the First Half of the Season.
Atlanta Hawks: Danilo Gallinari, February 24, 2021 vs Boston Celtics
While Trae Young has had a spectacular season and should have been selected for the All-Star Game, it is Danilo Gallinari who had the best individual performance for the Hawks in the first half of the season. In a February 24th matchup against the Boston Celtics, Gallinari came off the bench to score 38 points connecting on a Hawks franchise record 10 three-pointers. He shot 81% from the field and 83% from three-point range.
Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown, December 30, 2020 vs Memphis Grizzlies
This All-Star weekend saw Jaylen Brown make his All-Star debut on the heels of a season in which he has averaged 24.7 points. Brown’s best game in the first half of the season came December 30th against the Memphis Grizzlies. He scored a career-high 42 points shooting an efficient 71% from the field and making a career-high seven three-pointers. This included scoring 18 points in the second quarter and 16 points in the third quarter.
Brooklyn Nets: James Harden, March 1, 2021 vs San Antonio Spurs
In his 23 games with the Brooklyn Nets, James Harden has recorded eight triple doubles and has led the team to a 17-6 record. Arguably his most impressive triple-double performance came on March 1st against the San Antonio Spurs. He finished with 30 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds with no turnovers. This made him the first player to finish with such a stat line without recording a single turnover.
Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, January 9, 2021 vs Atlanta Hawks
LaMelo Ball has exceeded expectations in his rookie season as he is almost surely a lock to win the Rookie of the Year award. It was in a January 9th matchup against the Atlanta Hawks that Ball made history by becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. Coming off the bench, Ball finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists shooting 69% from the field.
Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, February 10, 2021 vs New Orleans Pelicans
Every year since joining the Chicago Bulls in 2017, Zach Lavine has continued to get better as a player with his scoring, rebound and assist average improving every season. His hard work led him to his first All-Star appearance this season on the heels of averaging a career-high 28.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists. His best performance came against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 10th. He scored a season-high 46 points on 68% shooting making nine three-pointers. This included a 20-point first quarter that saw shoot a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton, January 20, 2021 vs Brooklyn Nets
In what was billed as the first game that Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all stepped on the court together for the Nets for the first time, Collin Sexton spoiled their debut by having his best performance of the season. He finished with 42 points, five rebounds and five assists, leading the Cavs to a double overtime win. It was in the second overtime that Sexton carried his team to a victory scoring 15 points in the period falling one-point short of the NBA record for points in an overtime period.
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic, February 6, 2021 vs Golden State Warriors
Luka Doncic continues to show why he is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA today, leading the Mavericks while nearly averaging a triple-double for the season. Although he has seven triple-doubles so far this season, his best game was rather a near triple-double that saw him finish with 46 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds against the Golden State Warriors. His 11th and final assist in the game saw him set up a dagger three by Maxi Kleber to secure the win for his team. The win came in spite of Stephen Curry scoring 57 points for the Warriors.
Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray, February 19, 2021 vs Cleveland Cavaliers
In last season’s playoffs, Jamal Murray showed signs that he is ready to become a star in the NBA. He averaged 26.5 points including two 50-point games helping the Nuggets become the first team to win playoff series’ by overcoming a 3-1 deficit twice. This season has not been as successful as his playoff run but he was able to give us a glimpse of his playoff greatness. On February 19th against the Cavaliers, Murray scored 50 points on 84% shooting making eight three-pointers. He is the first player to ever score 50 points in a game without a free throw attempt.
Detroit Pistons: Jerami Grant, February 17, 2021 vs Chicago Bulls
Despite the Detroit Pistons having the worst record in the Eastern Conference, Jerami Grant has been a rare bright spot for the team. He is averaging a career high 23.4 points and is the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award. His best performance saw him score a career-high 42 points on 60% shooting on February 17th against the Chicago Bulls. Despite scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter, the Pistons went on to lose 105-102.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, January 3, 2021 vs Portland Trail Blazers
Even with two MVPs under his belt, an argument could be made that Stephen Curry is having the best season of his career. He is averaging 29.7 points and has the Warriors in the playoff race despite being without his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson. With so many great shooting displays in his career, Stephen Curry had never scored 60 points in a game. That is until January 3rd when Curry scored 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers. He made eight three-pointers in the game while also added five rebounds and four assists.
Houston Rockets: James Harden, December 26, 2020 vs Portland Trail Blazers
Although he played just eight games with the Houston Rockets this season, James Harden still found a way to have the best individual performance for the team thus far. In the Rockets’ season opener against the Trail Blazers, Harden went off for 44 points and 17 assists. In the first half alone, he already secured a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. It was not enough to give the Rockets the win as the Blazers beat them 128-126 in overtime.
Indiana Pacers: T.J. McConnell, March 3, 2021 vs Cleveland Cavaliers
In a March 3 matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, T.J. McConnell put up one of the most impressive triple-doubles the NBA has seen. He recorded 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals while coming off the bench. This makes him the first sixth man to record 10 steals in a game and the first to record a triple-double with steals while coming off the bench. He set an NBA-record for steals in a half, recording nine steals in the first two quarters.
Los Angeles Clippers: Marcus Morris, February 15, 2021 vs Miami Heat
Although the Clippers are currently fourth in the west with a 24-14 record, they went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak and losing six of their last nine games. Looking for a standout performance among the Clippers’ roster proved to much more difficult than expected. It was Marcus Morris who got the nod for his 32-point game against the Miami Heat. He shot 73% from the field in the game with 26 of his points and all six of his three-pointers coming in the first half.
Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James, January 25, 2021 vs Cleveland Cavaliers
In year 17 in the NBA, LeBron James continues to show the world why he is one of the greatest of all-time. He is leading the Lakers in points, assists and minutes per game as they currently sit in third place in the Western Conference despite playing without Anthony Davis for the past nine games. LeBron’s standout performance came against his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers in which he scored 46 points on 73% shooting while making seven three-pointers. He also added eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. This included scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to help secure the win for his team.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, December 23, 2020 vs San Antonio Spurs
Ja Morant started off the 2021 NBA season with a bang, scoring a career-high 44 points against the San Antonio Spurs. After struggling in the first half while scoring just 10 points on less than 50% shooting, Morant caught fire in the second half with 34 points. That included 18 points in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was enough to give the Grizzlies the win as the Spurs walked away with a 131-119 victory.
Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo, January 23, 2021 vs Brooklyn Nets
A big reason for the Miami Heat’s struggles this season is injuries and COVID-19. The Heat have struggled to keep a constant starting lineup with 14 different players starting a game for them this season. Despite this, they are still in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference holding the sixth spot. Their best performance came from Bam Adebayo in a game that saw him finish with 41 points on 70% shooting along with nine assists and five rebounds against the Brooklyn. He recorded 20 points and seven assists in the fourth quarter but was unable to lead the Heat to victory as the Nets won 128-124.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, February 10, 2021 vs Phoenix Suns
Back-to-back reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a great case for a three-peat as he continues to put up dominant numbers en route to establishing the Bucks as a contender in the Eastern Conference. In a February 10th game against the Phoenix Suns, Giannis scored a season-high 47 points along with 11 rebounds and five assists. This included scoring 30 of his team’s 53 points in the second half and 16 of their 23 in the fourth quarter. The Suns, however, would go on to win the game 125-124.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, February 21, 2021 vs New York Knicks
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the only team in the NBA that has yet to win 10 games this season. Injuries have also plagued them as two of their top scorers Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell have missed a combined 36 games. It was Karl-Anthony Towns’ performance against the New York Knicks that gets the nod for the Timberwolves’ best performance in the first half of the season. He finished with 27 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. This included putting up 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the fourth quarter. However, as the trend goes for the T-Wolves, it was not enough for the win.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, February 12, 2021 vs Dallas Mavericks
Zion Williamson has continued to take the league by storm in his sophomore season, dominating the competition by using his size and athleticism. He put his skills to the test in a matchup against fellow rising star Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Zion played excellent basketball, posting 36 points only missing one shot from the field all game. This included shooting a perfect 10-of-10 from the field in the first half, scoring 23 points. Bafflingly, the Pelicans still lost with the Mavericks taking the win led by a 46-point game by Luka Doncic.
New York Knicks: Julius Randle, February 15, 2021 vs Atlanta Hawks
Like Jerami Grant, Julius Randle is also a frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award. However, what set Julius Randle apart is the fact that he has the Knicks in position to make their first playoff appearance since 2013, as they currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. It was in a February 15th game against the Atlanta Hawks, Julius Randle scored a season high 44 points on 64% shooting and hit seven three-pointers. He added nine rebounds and five assists to his totals.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, February 24, 2021 vs San Antonio Spurs
Despite the Thunder not currently being in position for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been a bright spot for the team. He is having an underrated season thus far, averaging 23.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists. His best game came against the San Antonio Spurs on February 24th, finishing with 42 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He shot 65% from the field and hit six three-pointers. This included scoring 21 points in the third quarter shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field while hitting three three-pointers. Lugentz Dort was the savior in the game for the Thunder, hitting a buzzer-beating three to give them the 102-99 win.
Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic, February 19, 2021 vs Golden State Warriors
Nikola Vucevic has been a model of consistency for the Orlando Magic since joining the team in 2014. The past three years has seen him etch his name among the top centers in the NBA today. While he had an impressive 43-point, 19-rebound performance against the Chicago Bulls, it was his February 19th game against the Golden State Warriors that takes this spot. In this game, Vucevic recorded his third career triple-double with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists without a single turnover in the game.
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, February 19, 2021 vs Chicago Bulls
After years of showing great potential, Joel Embiid could finally be primed to take home the NBA MVP award for the first time in his career. He has led the 76ers to the best record in the Eastern Conference while averaging a career-high 30.2 points. Joel Embiid’s best game saw him put up a dominant performance against the Chicago Bulls on February 19th. He put up a career-high 50 points on 65% shooting with 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals.
Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul, February 1, 2021 vs Dallas Mavericks
Chris Paul continues to show his greatness as he has the Suns on pace to have their best record and their first playoff appearance in over a decade. The Suns are currently in second place in the Western Conference and have the second-best record in the league. Paul’s best performance came against the Dallas Mavericks on February 1st when he posted 34 points on 70% shooting along with nine rebounds and nine assists. His final assist sealed a win for the Suns as Devin Booker hit a three to give the Suns a 106-105 victory.
Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, January 30, 2021 vs Chicago Bulls
If there was one word to describe Damian Lillard in the first half of the season, it would be spectacular. Playing without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic for the majority of the season, Lillard has kept the Blazers afloat averaging just shy of 30 points per game with the Blazers occupying the fifth spot in the West. In a January 30th matchup against the Chicago Bulls, Lillard scored 44 points in the game and hit a buzzer-beating three to secure a 123-122 win for his team.
Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, February 1, 2021 vs New Orleans Pelicans
De’Aaron Fox’s two highest-scoring games this season both came against the New Orleans Pelicans scoring 43 and 38 points, respectively. His 38-point game was the better performance while also recording 12 assists. Down by as many as 10 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Fox scored 17 points in the final period to help the Kings escape with a 118-109 win.\
San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray, February 8, 2021 vs Golden State Warriors
Last season, the San Antonio Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997. They have recovered well so far as they hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference. One of the bright spots for the Spurs has been Dejounte Murray who also had the best game for them in the first half of the season. On February 8th against the Warriors, Murray finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Five of his eight steals in the game came in the first half.
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet, February 2, 2021 vs Orlando Magic
In a February 21st game against the Orlando Magic, Fred VanVleet set a new Toronto Raptors franchise record by scoring 54 points in the game. He shot 74% from the field and made 11 three-pointers with eight of his three-point shots coming in the first half. This was the highest-scoring game by an undrafted player in NBA history.
Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, February 15, 2021 vs Philadelphia 76ers
Led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz currently hold the best record in the NBA at 27-9. However, its Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson who had the Jazz’s best performance in the first half of the season. He scored 40 points on 65% shooting off the bench against the Philadelphia 76ers. This included hitting eight three-pointers in the game with four coming in the first quarter and three in the third quarter.
Washington Wizards: Russell Westbrook/Bradley Beal, January 31, 2021 vs Brooklyn Nets
It was hard to choose between Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal for this entry because they both played a huge role in what was arguably the best comeback win of this season. For the majority of the game, the Wizards trailed with their largest deficit reaching 18 points in the first quarter. The Wizards fought hard to stay competitive but were still down five with 12 seconds remaining.
Bradley Beal came down the court and hit a three to cut the Nets’ lead to two with eight seconds remaining. Then, Russell Westbrook stole the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a three to give the Wizards the lead and ultimately the win in the game. Russell Westbrook finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while Bradley Beal had 37 points, six rebounds and four assists.