While everyone’s focused on the new year ahead, some players still have business to finish on New Year’s Eve. This is the countdown of the five players who did it the best in the final game of the year, ranging from two Clippers, to one of Dime’s favorite players of all time, to the GOAT. All of them closed out their calendar years in the best ways possible. There may be six games on today’s schedule, but it’s going to be hard to beat these performances.
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5. ELTON BRAND, 2006
Though Dwight Howard‘s 17 points and 22 rebounds in 2007 were nice, Howard shot just 36 percent in that game against an aging Chicago front line of Joe Smith and Ben Wallace. The No. 5 spot goes, instead, to Brand’s 32 points, eight blocks and six boards exactly a year earlier.
The Clippers would beat the Knicks in this game, 90-80, thanks to a big different in true shooting percentages of 14 percentage points — a gap you could almost solely attribute to Brand. He shot 72 percent in this game, or 13-of-18 from the field, while not even attempting a field goal in the whole second quarter. He’d done enough in nearly the first half of the first quarter alone, scoring 15 points in the first seven minutes.
Video is scarce from this performance, but there is this trivia from the game, instead: This was the final NBA game played with its “new” synthetic ball that lasted less than half a season.