Looking Back at the Highest Scoring Games in NBA History

Looking Back at the Highest Scoring Games in NBA History

Updated: 20 days, 18 hours, 43 minutes, 37 seconds ago

Looking back at the highest scoring games in NBA history originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

An NBA player has scored 70 or more points in a game just 13 times over nearly eight decades. It has now happened twice in the last two months.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers scored 71 points during a 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday, equaling the eighth-highest scoring game in NBA history. He matched the total scored just 55 days prior by Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 145-134 victory against the Chicago Bulls.

That led to Mitchell's mother saying her son now has to score 72 points.

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My mom calls me and says @Dame_Lillard tied your record… you gotta get 72 now😂😂😂

— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) February 27, 2023

Easier said than done, Mrs. Mitchell!

This marks the first time in the same season that two different players have scored 70-plus points in a single game. The key word there being different players. Wilt Chamberlain scored 70-plus points in a game twice over a 13-day span in 1962.

Chamberlain has accounted for six of the NBA's 13 70-plus point games, including his single-game record of 100 points.

Here's a look at the offensive masterpieces that make up the NBA's top individual scoring games....

1. Wilt Chamberlain, 100 points - March 2, 1962

We've all seen the photo of Wilt Chamberlain holding up the piece of paper with a "100" written on it. That's about the only visual that exists from that triple-digit, record-setting performance. Chamberlain shot 36-for-63 from the field, setting the record for most shots made and attempted in a single game, and went 28-for-32 from the free throw line in the Philadelphia Warriors' 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. He scored 59 points in the second half, which remains a record for points in a half, en route to setting a record that is unlikely to be broken.

2. Kobe Bryant, 81 points - Jan. 22, 2006

Only one other NBA player has surpassed the 80-point milestone: Kobe Bryant. He scored 81 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors, at the time becoming just the fourth player not named Wilt Chamberlain, and the second guard, to score more than 70 in a game. Bryant shot 28-for-46 from the field, including 7 of 13 from three, and went 18-for-20 from the free throw line, knocking down his final two attempts with 43.4 seconds remaining. Bryant scored 27 points in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth, accounting for all but 18 of the Lakers' second-half points. 

3. Wilt Chamberlain, 78 points - Dec. 8, 1961

When Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game, he broke the previous scoring record held by...Wilt Chamberlain. He first set the record in 1961 by scoring 78 points in the Warriors' 151-147 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Chamberlain shot 31-for-62 and went 16 of 31 from the stripe to top the single-game scoring record of 71 points held by Elgin Baylor. Chamberlain also grabbed 43 rebounds in the loss.  

4. David Thompson, 73 points - April 9, 1978

Alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant in the 73-point club is David Thompson of the Denver Nuggets. The Hall of Famer got the green light during a 139-137 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the final game of the regular season while in a scoring race with George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs. Thompson, who averaged 22.7 points per game during his career, went 28 of 38 from the field and 17 of 20 from the line for what at the time was the NBA's second non-Chamberlain 70-plus point game. Thompson and Gervin both finished at 27.2 per game, with the scoring title tiebreaker of total points going to Gervin.  

Wilt Chamberlain, 73 points - Nov. 16, 1962 and Jan. 13, 1962

Wilt Chamberlain scored 70-plus points in a single game four times during the 1962 calendar year. The first came on Jan. 13 in the Warriors 135-117 win over the Chicago Packers as Chamberlain shot 29-for-48 from the field and 15-for-25 from the line. The last came on Nov. 16 in a 127-111 win over the New York Knicks with Chamberlain shooting 29-for-43 and making 15 of 19 free throw attempts. At the time, that gave Chamberlain the five highest single-game scoring performances in league history.

7. Wilt Chamberlain, 72 points - Nov. 3, 1962

Only one player has scored 70-plus points in a single game twice in one season. And that was...well, you already know the answer to that. Chamberlain shot 29-for-48 from the field and 14 of 18 from the line in his 72-point performance during the Warriors 127-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Chamberlain topped that 13 days later with a 73-point game (see previous paragraph). 

8. Damian Lillard, 71 points - Feb. 26, 2023

It was Dame Time for four quarters. Lillard became the NBA's first point guard to enter the 70-point club when he put on an outside shooting exhibition in the Portland Trail Blazers' 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets. Lillard went 22-for-38 from the field, including 13 of 22 from three, which was one make shy of matching the NBA's single-game record of 14 held by Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Dame also made all 14 of his free throw attempts, matching Donovan Mitchell, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson for the eighth-most points scored in a game in NBA history.

Donovan Mitchell, 71 points - Jan. 2, 2023

The NBA hadn't had a scoring performance of this magnitude since Kobe Bryant's iconic performance nearly 17 years prior. Donovan Mitchell hit a circus shot to force overtime and then scored 13 points in the extra session to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 145-134 win over the Chicago Bulls. Mitchell went 22-for-34 from the field, connecting on 7 of 15 three-point attempts, and went 20-for-25 from the line. He added a career-high 11 assists, meaning he scored or assisted on 99 points, the second most in an NBA game behind Chamberlain's 100-point performance.  

David Robinson, 71 points - April 24, 1994

David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs entered the final game of the 1993-1994 season trailing a young Orlando Magic center named Shaquille O'Neal for the scoring title by percentage points. That changed after Robinson dropped 71 points by shooting 26-of-41 from the field and 18-for-25 from the line in the Spurs' 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Robinson finished the season averaging 29.8 points to top O'Neal, who averaged 29.3, and won his lone scoring title.

Elgin Baylor, 71 points - Nov. 15, 1960

The last player before Wilt Chamberlain to hold the NBA's single-game scoring record was Elgin Baylor. Baylor scored 71 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-108 win over the New York Knicks, which remains the highest scoring individual performance in the history of Madison Square Garden, new or old. Baylor went 28-for-48 from the field and 15-for-19 from the line. That broke Baylor's own single-game scoring record of 64 points, which he set in 1959 after breaking the previous high of 63 points set by Philadelphia Warriors Hall of Famer Joe Fulks in 1949.   

12. Devin Booker, 70 points - March 24, 2017

At just 20 years old, Devin Booker became the youngest NBA player to record a 70-point game. He nearly doubled his previous career-high of 39 points after shooting 21-for-40, including 4 of 11 from three, and going 24-for-25 from the free throw line in the Phoenix Suns' 130-120 loss to the Boston Celtics. Booker scored 51 points in the second half, tying Michael Jordan's NBA record of 20 made free throws in a half. 

Wilt Chamberlain, 70 points - March 10, 1963

This was the sixth and final 70-plus point games of Wilt Chamberlain’s career. He shot 27-for-38 from the field and connected on 16 of 22 free throw attempts in the San Francisco Warriors' 163-148 loss to the Syracuse Nationals. The closest Chamberlain would get to 70 again would be in 1967 when he scored 68 points in a game for the Philadelphia 76ers, one of his 32 60-plus point games in his career.