List of highest-scoring NBA games

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An arena is situated behind an empty parking lot.
McNichols Arena in Denver was the site of the highest-scoring game in NBA history.
An arena is situated behind a road.
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix was the site of the highest-scoring playoff game.

In basketball, points are used to keep track of the score in a game. Points can be accumulated by making field goals (worth two points from within the three-point line or three points from beyond the three-point line) or free throws (worth one point).[1] The team that records the most points at the end of a game is declared the game's winner. If the game is still tied at the end of regulation play, additional overtime period(s) are played in order to determine the winner.

Teams only averaged around 80 points per game in the years following the founding of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1946.[2] Before the introduction of the shot clock, teams often ran out the clock by passing the ball more frequently after they established a lead in a game. If one team chose to stall, the other team (especially if behind) would often commit fouls to regain possession. This resulted in very low-scoring games with many fouls, affecting attendance by making fans irritable.[3] Starting in the 1954–55 season, the NBA implemented a 24-second shot clock. If the offensive team fails to hit the rim with the ball within the allotted time, they would lose possession.[4] This innovation resulted in much higher scoring games.[4] All of the highest-scoring games in the NBA have happened during the shot-clock era.

Summary[edit]

The highest-scoring regular season game is the triple-overtime game between the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets on December 13, 1983. The two teams combined to score 370 points, with the Pistons defeating the Nuggets 186–184. An NBA-record four players scored over 40 points in the game, including the Nuggets' Kiki Vandeweghe with a game-high 51. The two teams also set several other NBA records, including the most points scored by one team (186 points), the most points scored by a losing team (184), the most field goals by two teams (142), most field goals by one team (74) and most assists by two teams (93).[5][6]

The highest-scoring regular season game in regulation was between the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets on November 2, 1990. In that game, Golden State defeated Denver 162–158. The Warriors' Chris Mullin scored a game-high 38 points. The Nuggets were coached by Doug Moe from 1980 to 1990 and Paul Westhead from 1990 to 1992,[7][8] both of whom employed a run and gun offensive strategy, which focuses on attempting a high number of field goals while also conceding a large number of points on defense.[9][10] In fact, Moe's and Westhead's Nuggets were participants in five of the ten highest-scoring regular season games in NBA history. The Warriors were coached by Don Nelson from 1988 to 1995 and 2006 to 2010.[11] He employed Nellie Ball, a style of run and gun that uses smaller, more athletic players to outrun opponents.[12] Another notable high scoring regular season game is a March 2, 1962 game between the Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks. In that game, the Warriors' Wilt Chamberlain scored an NBA-record 100 points.[13]

The highest-scoring playoff game is the double-overtime game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns on May 11, 1992. The two teams combined to score 304 points, with the Trail Blazers defeating the Suns 153–151. The Suns' Kevin Johnson scored a game-high 35 points, with 12 other players also scoring in double figures. The highest-scoring playoff game in regulation occurred when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets with a score of 152–133 for a combined score of 285 points on April 26, 1983. In that game, the Spurs' George Gervin scored a game-high 42 points.

Most of the highest-scoring games happened before the 1995–96 season, when the average scoring (points per game) per team was always in the 100s.[2] Since that season, the average has dropped down to the 90s.[14] Only two post-1995 games make the top-ten lists of both the regular season and playoffs: a May 10, 2003 game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings and a December 7, 2006 game between the Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets. Both the Mavericks and the Suns were coached by Nelson and Mike D'Antoni respectively, both of whom also made use of the run and gun style.[15]

List[edit]

Key
OT Overtime (the number indicates the number of overtime periods played, if there were more than one)
* Indicates a game that was won by the road team

Highest-scoring regular season games[edit]

Highest-scoring regular season games
Total
points
Date Location Winning
team
Result OT Losing
team
Notes Ref.
1
370
December 13, 1983 McNichols Arena
Denver, Colorado
Detroit Pistons* 186–184 3 Denver Nuggets [17]
2
337
March 6, 1982 HemisFair Arena
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Spurs 171–166 3 Milwaukee Bucks [18]
3
320
November 2, 1990 McNichols Arena
Denver, Colorado
Golden State Warriors* 162–158 Denver Nuggets [19]
4
318
January 11, 1984 McNichols Arena
Denver, Colorado
Denver Nuggets 163–155 San Antonio Spurs [21]
4
318
December 7, 2006 Continental Airlines Arena
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Phoenix Suns* 161–157 2 New Jersey Nets [22]
6
316
March 2, 1962 Hershey Sports Arena
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Warriors 169–147 New York Knicks [23]
6
316
March 12, 1970 Cincinnati Gardens
Cincinnati
Cincinnati Royals 165–151 San Diego Rockets [24]
6
316
November 10, 1990 Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix Suns 173–143 Denver Nuggets [25]
9
314
November 7, 1990 HemisFair Arena
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Spurs 161–153 Denver Nuggets [26]
10
312
February 27, 1959 Boston Garden
Boston
Boston Celtics 173–139 Minneapolis Lakers [27]

Highest-scoring playoff games[edit]

Below are the top 10 highest-scoring playoff games. Four of the games happened before the 1979–80 season, the season in which the three-point line was first implemented.

Highest-scoring playoff games
Total
points
Date Location Winner Result OT Loser Notes Ref.
1
304
May 11, 1992 Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Phoenix, Arizona
Portland Trail Blazers* 153–151 2 Phoenix Suns [28]
2
285
April 26, 1983 HemisFair Arena
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Spurs 152–133 Denver Nuggets [29]
2
285
April 28, 1990 Boston Garden
Boston
Boston Celtics 157–128 New York Knicks [30]
4
280
April 23, 1987 Reunion Arena
Dallas
Dallas Mavericks 151–129 Seattle SuperSonics [31]
5
279
April 1, 1967 Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena
Oakland, California
San Francisco Warriors 143–136 St. Louis Hawks [32]
6
278
March 25, 1957 Minneapolis Auditorium
Minneapolis
St. Louis Hawks* 143–135 2 Minneapolis Lakers [33]
6
278
May 10, 2003 ARCO Arena
Sacramento, California
Dallas Mavericks* 141–137 2 Sacramento Kings [34]
8
277
April 20, 1985 Great Western Forum
Los Angeles
Los Angeles Lakers 147–130 Phoenix Suns [35]
9
276
April 14, 1967 The Spectrum
Philadelphia
Philadelphia 76ers 141–135 1 San Francisco Warriors [36]
9
276
March 30, 1970 The Spectrum
Philadelphia
Milwaukee Bucks* 156–120 Philadelphia 76ers [37]
9
276
April 27, 2013 United Center
Chicago
Chicago Bulls 142–134 3 Brooklyn Nets [38]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ It has been the record for 34 years, 1 day.
  2. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Terry Tyler (18), Bill Laimbeer (17), Vinnie Johnson (12).
  3. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Mike Evans (16), Richard Anderson (13), Danny Schayes (11).
  4. ^ This was the record from March 6, 1982 to December 13, 1983. It lasted for 1 year, 282 days.
  5. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Dave Corzine (19), Johnny Moore (16), Mike Bratz (14).
  6. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Sidney Moncrief (18), Quinn Buckner (18), Marques Johnson (14).
  7. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Tom Tolbert (18), Rod Higgins (17).
  8. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Todd Lichti (19), Michael Adams (18), T. R. Dunn (12), Jerome Lane (11), Blair Rasmussen (10).
  9. ^ In the fourth quarter, the Spurs scored 53 points and the Nuggets scored 46 points.[20]
  10. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Dan Issel (17), Howard Carter (16), Mike Evans (12), Bill Hanzlik (11), Richard Anderson (10).
  11. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Gene Banks (17), Edgar Jones (17), Artis Gilmore (15), Keith Edmonson (14), Mark McNamara (14).
  12. ^ Kidd recorded 38 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
  13. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Boris Diaw (16), Leandro Barbosa (16).
  14. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Marcus Williams (18), Mikki Moore (14), Eddie House (12), Nenad Krstić (10).
  15. ^ This was the record from March 2, 1962 to March 6, 1982. It lasted for 20 years, 4 days.
  16. ^ This is Chamberlain's career high. Chamberlain also recorded 25 rebounds.
  17. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Al Attles (17), Paul Arizin (16), Tom Meschery (16), Guy Rodgers (11).
  18. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Dave Budd (13), Donnie Butcher (10).
  19. ^ This tied for the record from March 12, 1970 to March 6, 1982. It lasted for 11 years, 359 days.
  20. ^ Other with double-digit point totals was Wally Anderzunas (12).
  21. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Bingo Smith (16), Stu Lantz (14), Bernie Williams (12), Toby Kimball (11).
  22. ^ In the first half, the Suns scored 107 points and the Nuggets scored 67 points.[20]
  23. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Mark West (16), Jeff Hornacek (12), Eddie Johnson (12).
  24. ^ Other with double-digit point totals was Anthony Cook (13).
  25. ^ Other with double-digit point totals was Paul Pressey (14).
  26. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Corey Gaines (12), Blair Rasmussen (10).
  27. ^ This was the record from February 27, 1959 to March 2, 1962. It lasted for 3 years, 3 days.
  28. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Gene Conley (14), K. C. Jones (12), Jim Loscutoff (11).
  29. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Bobby Leonard (16), Ed Fleming (13), Boo Ellis (12).
  30. ^ It has been the record for 25 years, 217 days.
  31. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Cliff Robinson (16), Kevin Duckworth (14), Buck Williams (11).
  32. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Cedric Ceballos (19), Andrew Lang (13).
  33. ^ This was the record from April 26, 1983 to May 11, 1992. It lasted for 9 years, 15 days.
  34. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Artis Gilmore (13), Edgar Jones (10).
  35. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Billy McKinney (13), Danny Schayes (12), Rob Williams (12).
  36. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Robert Parish (18), Ed Pinckney (16), Larry Bird (15), Dennis Johnson (12), Jim Paxson (11), John Bagley (10).
  37. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Kiki Vandeweghe (13), Charles Oakley (11), Mark Jackson (11).
  38. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Rolando Blackman (18), Derek Harper (18), James Donaldson (15), Sam Perkins (12), Detlef Schrempf (10), Brad Davis (10), Bill Wennington (10).
  39. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Xavier McDaniel (18), Eddie Johnson (14), Kevin Williams (14), Russ Schoene (11).
  40. ^ This was the record from April 1, 1967 to April 26, 1983. It lasted for 16 years, 25 days.
  41. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Jim King (13), Tom Meschery (13), Fred Hetzel (12).
  42. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Zelmo Beaty (19), Joe Caldwell (18).
  43. ^ This was the record from March 25, 1957 to April 1, 1967. It lasted for 10 years, 7 days.
  44. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Ed Macauley (19), Jack McMahon (18), Chuck Share (15).
  45. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Ed Kalafat (17), Vern Mikkelsen (16).
  46. ^ Other with double-digit point totals was Walt Williams (10).
  47. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Doug Christie (18), Mike Bibby (16), Bobby Jackson (16), Keon Clark (12), Jim Jackson (11).
  48. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Magic Johnson (19), James Worthy (15), Michael Cooper (13).
  49. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Maurice Lucas (13), Charles Pittman (12), Charles Jones (12), Rod Foster (10).
  50. ^ Other with double-digit point totals was Wilt Chamberlain (16).
  51. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Jeff Mullins (16), Jim King (15), Fred Hetzel (12).
  52. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Freddie Crawford (18), Bob Dandridge (18), Len Chappell (12), Zaid Abdul-Aziz (11).
  53. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Fred Hetzel (17), Wali Jones (14), Hal Greer (12), Bud Ogden (12), Matt Guokas (11), Billy Cunningham (10), Jim Washington (10).
  54. ^ Others with double-digit point totals was Kirk Hinrich (18), Jimmy Butler (16), Luol Deng (15), Joakim Noah (15), Taj Gibson (10).
  55. ^ Others with double-digit point totals were Gerald Wallace (17), Reggie Evans (15), Andray Blatche (13).

References[edit]

General
  • Farrell, Erin & Gardella, John (2006). Official NBA Guide 2006–07. Sporting News. p. 223. ISBN 9780892048540. 
Specific
  1. ^ "Basketball glossary". FIBA.com. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "NBA League Averages". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ Goldstein, Richard (December 25, 2004). "In 1954, Shot Clock Revived a Stalled N.B.A". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "History of the Shot Clock". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive. October 22, 2001. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Maxwell, John. "Highest Scoring Game Ever". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ Neel, Eric (December 13, 2005). "The big score". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Doug Moe". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Paul Westhead". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Newman, Bruce (November 7, 1988). "This Joker Is Wild". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Berkow, Ira (November 15, 1990). "The Nutty Numbers for The Nuggets". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Don Nelson". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ Jenkins, Lee (May 13, 2007). "Nellie Ball Energizes Warriors and Confounds Opponents". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  13. ^ Sandomir, Richard (March 1, 2012). "50th Anniversary of a Scoring Feat That's as Much Legend as Record". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ Bothamley, Dylan; Levin, Max. "Fastbreaks: Back to the Future". 82games.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ Beck, Howard (May 13, 2008). "Want to Play for D'Antoni? Start Running". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Roy S. (December 13, 1983). "The Great Denver Shootout". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets Box Score, December 13, 1983". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs Box Score, March 6, 1982". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets Box Score, November 2, 1990". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Regular Season Records: Points". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  21. ^ "San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Box Score, January 11, 1984". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Phoenix Suns at New Jersey Nets Box Score, December 7, 2006". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Philadelphia Warriors vs New York Knicks Box Score, March 2, 1962". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  24. ^ "San Diego Rockets at Cincinnati Royals Box Score, March 12, 1970". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Box Score, November 10, 1990". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Box Score, November 7, 1990". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Minneapolis Lakers at Boston Celtics Box Score, February 27, 1959". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Box Score, May 11, 1992". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Box Score, April 26, 1983". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  30. ^ "New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Box Score, April 28, 1990". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Seattle SuperSonics at Dallas Mavericks Box Score, April 23, 1987". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  32. ^ "St. Louis Hawks at San Francisco Warriors Box Score, April 1, 1967". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  33. ^ "St. Louis Hawks at Minneapolis Lakers Box Score, March 25, 1957". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Dallas Mavericks at Sacramento Kings Box Score, May 10, 2003". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, April 20, 1985". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  36. ^ "San Francisco Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers Box Score, April 14, 1967". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers Box Score, March 30, 1970". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls Box Score, April 27, 2013". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013.