Most Points Scored in an NBA Game?

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

In the electrifying world of professional basketball, where athleticism and skill converge, there exists a coveted record that transcends time and generations: the most points scored by a single player in a single NBA game. This remarkable feat not only showcases individual brilliance but also etches the player’s name into the annals of basketball history. Let’s delve into the mesmerizing narratives of these extraordinary performances, from Wilt Chamberlain’s legendary 100-point game to Kobe Bryant’s iconic 81-point masterpiece.

1. Wilt Chamberlain: The Mythical 100-Point Game

The Setting

On March 2, 1962, in the quaint town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Warriors faced off against the New York Knicks. The game unfolded in relative obscurity, devoid of television cameras capturing every dribble and dunk. Only 4,124 spectators witnessed history unfold in the Hershey Sports Arena.

The Unfathomable Feat

Wilt Chamberlain, a towering force on the court, embarked on an otherworldly scoring spree. By halftime, he had already amassed 41 points, leaving the Knicks defense bewildered. As the game progressed, Chamberlain’s scoring frenzy intensified. His final basket, with just 46 seconds remaining, propelled him to an unimaginable 100 points. The Warriors secured a 169-147 victory, setting a record for the most combined points in an NBA game.

The Enigma

Yet, the mystique surrounding this game persists. No video footage exists, and the only visual evidence comes from still photographs. Associated Press photographer Paul Vathis captured Wilt in action, immortalizing the moment when Chamberlain held up a piece of paper with the number “100” scrawled on it in the locker room.

2. Kobe Bryant: The 81-Point Symphony

The Showdown

On January 22, 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers clashed with the Toronto Raptors. Kobe Bryant, a maestro with the basketball, orchestrated a symphony of scoring. His 81-point masterpiece remains the second-highest individual point total in NBA history.

The Unrelenting Scorer

Bryant’s offensive onslaught was relentless. He attempted 46 of the Lakers’ 88 field goals, draining shots from all angles. Despite the Raptors’ early lead, Kobe orchestrated a second-half surge, contributing 27 points in the third quarter alone. His efficiency was staggering: 61% from the field, 54% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the free-throw line.

The Legacy

Kobe’s 81-point game epitomizes individual brilliance. It wasn’t merely a statistical anomaly; it was a testament to his unwavering focus, skill, and sheer determination. The Lakers’ eventual 122-104 victory paled in comparison to the brilliance of Bryant’s performance.

3. David Thompson: The Forgotten 73-Point Outburst

The Context

In the twilight of the 1977-78 NBA season, the Denver Nuggets faced off against the Detroit Pistons. The game unfolded in the cavernous McNichols Sports Arena, and the stakes were high. The Nuggets were battling for a playoff spot, and their star player, David Thompson, was about to etch his name in the record books.

The Explosive Performance

Thompson, a high-flying shooting guard, soared to unimaginable heights that fateful night. His scoring spree was a symphony of dunks, jump shots, and acrobatic layups. By the end of regulation, he had amassed 73 points, a feat overshadowed by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game but no less awe-inspiring.

The Near Miss

In a cruel twist of fate, the game went into overtime. Thompson, exhausted but determined, continued to attack the basket. However, he fell short of Chamberlain’s hallowed mark. The Nuggets secured a 139-137 victory, but Thompson’s 73 points remain etched in basketball lore.

4. Klay Thompson: The Splash Brother’s 37-Point Quarter

The Unprecedented Surge

On January 23, 2015, the Golden State Warriors faced the Sacramento Kings. Klay Thompson, one half of the famed “Splash Brothers” duo alongside Stephen Curry, unleashed a scoring frenzy that defied logic. In the third quarter alone, Thompson erupted for 37 points—a single-quarter record that still stands.

The Flurry of Threes

Thompson’s arsenal was simple yet devastating: the three-point shot. He drained nine consecutive threes, leaving the Kings defense in disarray. His release was swift, his accuracy impeccable. The Oracle Arena erupted with each swish, and the basketball world watched in awe.

The Impact

The Warriors’ eventual 126-101 victory was a testament to Thompson’s historic performance. His 37-point quarter transcended individual achievement; it symbolized the Warriors’ dominance during their championship years.


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