Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
If you've been tossing and turning at night wondering when Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer would explode for 50 points in a game, the wait is finally over.
Also, you must not be getting very much sleep.
I'm declaring Brewer's 51-point outburst Friday against Houston the biggest sports upset of the year. You heard me, Shabazz Napier. Even bigger than UConn.
How could Brewer, an afterthought in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues, suddenly morph into Superman overnight? And if Brewer really is a basketball god among mortals, why did it take us so long to notice?
As baffling as Brewer's performance was, I actually have a decent explanation for it. Care to hear it?
1. Dwight Howard wasn't in uniform
Howard returned to action Saturday against New Orleans but prior to that he had sat out eight consecutive games with an ankle injury. The Rockets haven't been an especially good defensive team with Howard in the lineup (101.8 ppg, 18th in the NBA) but without him, they're absolutely dreadful.
Including Friday's loss to Minnesota, Houston has allowed 112.5 ppg in ten games without Howard this season. It's no wonder Brewer was able to go berserk.
2. Neither were Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic
Injuries limited the Wolves to eight players Friday night, which is probably why Brewer was able to hoist up a career-high 30 field goal attempts. Love and Pekovic have been the focal points of Minnesota's offense all season, averaging 31.7 shots per game between them.
While playing alongside Love and Pekovic, Brewer has averaged 9.0 field goal attempts per game (56 contests). Without them, that total rises to 12.4 (22 games). Now are the 51 points starting to make more sense?
3. Look at where he was shooting from
Brewer seemed to be on a mission Friday night. His mission? To shoot the ball from as close as possible.
A whopping 19 of his 30 field goal tries came from directly in front of the basket. And he made 16 of them (84.2 percent). That's 24 percent better than he's shot from that distance in his other 77 games this season (258-for-447). This again goes back to the Dwight Howard factor as fill-in center Omer Asik clearly wasn't intimidating Brewer in the low post.
4. He got to the line
Brewer made 11 of his 15 free throw tries. His career-high in ATTEMPTS prior to Friday's game was only ten. In fact, Friday was just Brewer's second game with double-digit free throw attempts in 464 career contests.
The 15 shots Brewer took from the charity stripe were as many as he had in his previous six games combined. It makes you wonder why he doesn't try to get to the line more often.
5. His teammates were feeling generous
The Timberwolves have averaged just under 24 assists per game, fifth-best in the NBA this season. Ten of the 22 dimes they recorded Friday went to Brewer including three from J.J. Barea and two each from Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng.
When your teammates are looking to set you up, the game's a lot simpler. Usually Rubio and company are looking to feed Love but clearly the game plan works just as well with Brewer on the receiving end.
Favorable circumstances certainly contributed to Brewer's historic outing but that shouldn't take away any of the luster. Only a handful of players have ever reached the 50-point threshold. Now Brewer can say that he's one of them.
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