Houston Rockets birthdays: Flashback to Calvin Murphy’s best game ever

Calvin Murphy
Calvin Murphy /

With Calvin Murphy turning 71 today, we take a look back at his best individual game ever, when he scored 57 points for the Houston Rockets.

It’s hard to find many people more ingrained with the Houston Rockets organization than Calvin Murphy. Since being drafted by the franchise in the 1970 NBA draft, Murphy has been playing with or working for the Rockets for nearly 50 years.

With Murphy turning 71 on Saturday, I wanted to honor his best performance ever on the Houston Rockets, which happened on March 18, 1978. That day, the struggling New Jersey Nets (20-52) were visiting the Rockets. Houston wasn’t having a great season themselves, with just a 24-48 record.

The game was heavily contested throughout, with the Rockets clinging to a 78-77 lead after three quarters. Potent scorer John Williamson was having a big game to help out Hall of Famer Bernard King for the Nets.

Calvin Murphy, meanwhile, was a one-man wrecking crew for Houston. The 5-9 point guard made an astounding 24 of his 40 attempts from the field (60 percent) to finish with 57 points in the game. His 24 made field goals are still the most ever for a member of the Houston Rockets, with Hakeem Olajuwon tying that mark in 1997.

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Murphy’s 57 was the highest-scoring effort ever for a Rocket until James Harden had 60 points on January 30, 2018. Since then, Harden has tied or surpassed 57 points eight more times.

Unfortunately for Murphy, there just wasn’t quite enough help for him on that day, as the Nets prevailed in a nail-biter, 106-104. New Jersey had five guys in double figures while only Ed Ratleff (14) and John Lucas (10) provided any kind of offensive help for Calvin.

While his effort fell short that day, Murphy still had dozens of outstanding performances that ended with a better result. His second-highest scoring effort was a 45-point outburst against the Buffalo Braves in a 127-117 victory in 1974.

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Happy Birthday to one of the greatest Rockets in history, Calvin Murphy!