19. Rip Hamilton, 51 points: Dec. 27, 2006
Christmas Day came and went. Just days before the calendar struck 2007, Rip Hamilton of the post-championship Detroit Pistons unleashed 51 points on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
For the modern-day NBA, Hamilton’s line of 19-for-37, 12-for-12 from the free throw line and just one three-point attempt to top the half-century mark will sound mind-boggling. However, as it was with Detroit’s long-term shooting guard (2002-11), he never threw the kitchen sink at outside shots.
The unique part of this 2006 game saw the Knicks and Pistons go to triple overtime. Maybe that inflated Hamilton’s numbers, but his late-game performance was difficult to ignore. He went off for 10 points in the second overtime and single-handedly kept Detroit in the game.
New York scored 15 points on its own in this heated second overtime, adding another 14 in the third extra period. While the Knicks came out on top in triple overtime, it was still Hamilton’s standout run that made this a memorable night.
The 51 points became the 2004 NBA champion’s career-high by the time he left the Association in 2013. This performance came in arguably his second-best season in the NBA, as he averaged 19.8 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting.
Since the Pistons lost, and with a smaller name value than others on the list, this performance won’t sit as high as some of the legends that entered MSG. But it still holds precedence as one of the best performances against the Knicks of the 2000s.