Top 10 lowest-scoring NBA games in the history of the league

Top 10 lowest-scoring NBA games in the history of the league

Basketball is considered the highest-scoring popular sport, with most NBA teams exceeding 100 points in a single match. However, some games have produced very low scores that were way below expectations. You may wonder how many points were scored in the lowest-scoring NBA games in history. Scroll down to find out.

Lowest-scoring NBA games in the history
Photo: canva.com (modified by author)
Source: UGC

One of the reasons for low scores in certain basketball matches is low shooting percentage. In addition, slow-paced matches and those that are too physical also tend to have poor performance. Discover more below.

Top 10 lowest-scoring NBA games

Has there ever been a 0-point NBA game? Although it is possible to attain zero points in basketball, there has never been a league match without a score. Also, no team has ever scored zero points in the league's history. So, what is the lowest-scoring basketball game?

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GameTotal PointsDate
Minneapolis Lakers 18-19 Fort Wayne Pistons3722 November 1950
Detroit Falcons 33-50 Washington Capitols832 November 1946
Boston Celtics 47-38 Washington Capitols8516 January 1947
Washington Capitols 49-40 Pittsburgh Ironmen8930 November 1946
Pittsburgh Ironmen 44-46 Boston Celtics902 December 1946
Boston Celtics 48-43 Pittsburgh Ironmen9123 January 1946
St Louis Bombers 46-50 Toronto Huskies9615 December 1946
Cleveland Rebels 49-47 Detroit Falcons961 December 1946
Boston Celtics 49-48 New York Knicks976 February 1947
New York Knicks 46-52 Boston Celtics9825 January 1947

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Lowest-scoring NBA game of all time

Lowest-scoring NBA game of all time
Minneapolis Lakers and the Fort Wayne Pistons players during their NBA match circa 1954 at the Minneapolis Auditorium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Hy Peskin
Source: Getty Images

The lowest-scoring NBA match in history was played on 22nd November 1950, between the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Minneapolis Lakers. The Pistons defeated their opponents 19-18 with a combined 37 points. It is also the lowest-scoring NBA game by one team (Minneapolis Lakers, 18).

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The Lakers were the favourites ahead of the match as defending league champions. However, the Pistons devised a strategy of possessing the ball long enough to deny the Lakers a chance to score.

"If this is basketball, I don't want to be a part of this game anymore. Play like that will kill professional basketball," said a frustrated John Kundla, Minneapolis Lakers' coach.

Lowest-scoring NBA game in the shot clock era

Lowest-scoring NBA game in the shot clock era
A Portable 24-second clock in use during the New York Knicks match against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on 24th February 2020, in Houston, Texas. Photo: Bob Levey
Source: Getty Images

In April 1954, the National Basketball Association invented the 24-second clock to prevent teams from possessing the ball for long without attempting to score. It ushered in the modern era of pro basketball, where teams have 24 seconds to put up a legal shot after gaining possession of the ball. The new regulations helped to increase the average score of matches.

On 27th February 1955, the Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks (62-57) match recorded the fewest points since the inception of the shot clock. Meanwhile, the lowest-scoring overtime match in the new era was the Charlotte Hornets against the Indiana Pacers on 17th January 2015. The Hornets defeated the Indiana Pacers 80-71 in overtime, with a combined 151 points. It is also one of the lowest-scoring NBA games since 1970.

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Fewest goals by a team in an NBA match since 1970

Lowest-scoring NBA games since 1970
Chicago Bulls' Bill Wellington (L) and Ron Harper (R) defend against Miami Heat's Jamal Mashburn during their match on 13th April 1999, at the Miami Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo: Rhona Wise
Source: Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls put up the fewest points by a team in a game (49) during their encounter with the Miami Heat on 10th April 1999. As a result, the Bulls lost to their opponents by 49-82.

Lowest-scoring NBA game in the playoffs

The record belongs to Philadelphia Warriors and St. Louis Bombers (51-56) with a combined 107 points. The two teams met in the 1948 Eastern Conference semifinal, with the Bombers emerging victorious. The low score in the playoff battle was due to the poor conversion rates from both sides. The Bombers only scored 20 out of 76 shots (26.3%), while their opponents managed 20 out of 113 shots (17.7%).

The lowest-scoring playoff match in the shot clock era was the 2002 Eastern Conference semifinals between Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. The Bostons won 66-64 in a relatively competitive match. Paul Pierce and Jerry Stackhouse scored 19 points for the Celtics and the Pistons, respectively.

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What is the lowest scoring NBA Finals game?

NBA Finals gameTotal PointsDate
Syracuse Nationals vs Minneapolis Lakers (62-20)1223 April 1954
Syracuse Nationals vs Minneapolis Lakers (65-63)12811 April 1954
Baltimore Bullets vs Philadelphia Warriors (66-63)12913 April 1948
Philadelphia Warriors vs Baltimore Bullets (71-60)13110 April 1948
Minneapolis Lakers vs Washington Capitols (77-56)13313 April 1949

The Syracuse Nationals and Minneapolis Lakers final played on 3rd April 1954 at Minneapolis ranks as the lowest-scoring final game in the history of the North American league. Syracuse won 62-60 with a combined 122 points.

Meanwhile, Utah Jazz has the record for the lowest points by a team in an NBA Finals game. The Jazz scored 54 points in a final defeat against the Bulls (96) on 7th June 1998.

What is the lowest-scoring NBA game in the 2000s?

Since 1999-00, the Denver Nuggets have produced the fewest points by a team in a match (53) against Detroit Pistons on 16th November 2002. Miami Heat nearly broke the record during their 54-96 defeat to Toronto Raptors.

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Lowest-scoring NBA game in 2022

The Sacramento Kings and the New York Knicks registered the fewest points in the 2021-22 NBA season. Both teams managed only 75 points in the respective defeats by the Boston Celtics in 2022.

Since the introduction of the 24-second clock, even the lowest-scoring NBA games are still relatively higher than in the past. The intensity of matches and the level of competition have also improved, making games more entertaining.

READ ALSO: Ranking the top 20 players with the most points in an NBA game

Sportsbrief.com recently released a list of the top 20 players with the most points in a single NBA game. According to research, over 20 basketball players have scored 60 points and above in one match.

Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and David Thompson are the leading scorers in a match with 100, 81, and 71 points, respectively. Follow the link above to discover details about other players on the list.

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Source: SportsBrief.com