Halloween is one of the most overlooked holidays on the NBA calendar. Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day get all the love, but Halloween? People seem more excited about the players’ costumes than the actual games.
Part of it is because for most of the 1990s, the NBA actually started the season after Halloween. Then in the 2000s, opening week coincided with Halloween so the holiday itself was overshadowed. It was only in 2017 that the NBA moved its season-openers to around mid-October, which is distant enough to allow Halloween games to be its own thing, but this year’s slate looks meh. There are only 5 games on hand and the only one worth tuning into is Jazz at Bucks.
I say it’s high time to give Halloween its due by looking at some scary good performances over the years. Since we prefer treats, we’ll only list the ones with YouTube highlights.
(In no particular order)
Derrick Rose’s 50-piece, game-winner, and game-saving block (2018)
In one of the one of the best feel good sporting moments ever, D-Rose turned back the clock to his prime years by scoring a career-high 50 points, lifting the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Utah Jazz, 128-125. Rose had 34 points in the second half and 15 in a tightly contested fourth quarter against the team who waived him the previous season after a two-day stint.
Steph Curry sets Halloween record with 53 points (2015)
Curry dazzled with 53 points on 17-of-27 shooting from the field with 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals in 35 minutes against the hapless Pelicans. He splashed 8-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc and set the tone for what would be a record-breaking season for himself (unanimous MVP) and the Warriors (73-win season).
Chris Paul outduels Steph with 42-point, 15-assist Lob City show (2013)
CP3 and Steph had a Halloween shootout in the 2013 opening night. Paul came out ahead both on the stat sheet and on the scoreboard with 42 points, 15 assists and six steals while leading the Clippers to a 126-115 victory. Steph had 39 points and 9 assists in a losing effort.
Rashard Lewis drops a 50-piece Halloween treat in Japan (2003)
Between 1990 and 2003, the NBA held a series of regular season games in Japan. The final game saw Lewis score a career-high 50 points in Seattle’s 124-105 victory over the Clippers. The Sonics made the trip to Japan without their All-Star guard Ray Allen, but he was hardly missed as Lewis made 18 of 25 shots from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, while also grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists.
Kawhi Leonard spooks Pop and the Spurs (2019)
Leonard exchanged pleasantries with Greg Popovich before gutting his former team ala Jason Voorhees with 38 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals in the Clippers’ 103-97 victory, which handed the Spurs their first loss of the 2019-20 season. It was Leonard’s first double-double against San Antonio, where he played seven seasons (2011-18) before being traded to Toronto in what was an acrimonious divorce between the franchise and its star player.
MJ’s Wizards’ Halloween night massacre of the Celtics (2002)
A 45-point blowout is hardly a “great” game to watch, but the Wizards set the record for the largest margin of victory in a Halloween game back in 2002. Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse, and Kwame Brown(!) combined for 63 points in an impressive win against the 2002 East finalists. MJ, who was experimenting with the sixth man role, finished with 21 points in 21 minutes. It was, at that time, the worst loss in Celtics history. Unfortunately, injuries would derail the Wizards’ playoff push in Jordan’s final season.
The Spurs didn’t need much of Manu Ginobili in their October 31, 2009 game against the Kings, as the Spurs handily won 113-94. He finished with 13 points in 21 minutes, but he will forever be remembered for his barehanded swat-and-catch of a live bat. On Halloween!