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

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

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:08 PM

Basketball is an incredibly exciting sport for several reasons. Above all interesting aspects of the game is the scoring part. Most highest-scoring NBA games get into the triple digits for both teams, which means a lot of fancy layups, long three-pointers, and high-flying dunks. In today’s NBA league, teams and players score more than ever before.

Highest scoring NBA games
Stephen Curry, #30 of the Golden State Warriors against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on April 24, 2022, in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Matthew Stockman
Source: Getty Images

The average NBA scores have been trending upward over the past few years due to the new styles of play and the many talented scorers in the league. Although score totals have been increasing, it may be surprising to know that we have to go back to 1983 to find the highest-scoring NBA game ever.

What's the highest-scoring NBA game in history?

There have been many high-scoring games throughout NBA’s long history. From the latest statistics, the following are the ranked top 10 highest-scoring NBA games in the league's history.

10. November 10, 1990: Nuggets vs Suns

Highest scoring NBA game 2022
Deandre Ayton (22) of the Phoenix Suns defends Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
Source: Getty Images

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Final Score: Phoenix Suns defeated Denver Nuggets, 173-143

Denver's offence was high-scoring throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Their lack of defense was shown here. The Suns beat Denver by 30 points behind Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson. Five Phoenix players scored 20 or more points, led by Cedric Ceballos' 32.

The Suns scored 173 points in regulation, tying the Celtics. This game was the NBA's highest-scoring first half, with 174 points.

9. March 2, 1962: Knicks vs Warriors

Highest scoring NBA playoffs game
Golden State Warriors vs the New York Knicks at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. Photo :Carlos Avila Gonzalez
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Warriors defeated New York Knicks, 169-147

Fans call this the 100-point game. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Warriors, still an NBA record. Al Attles scored 17 points for the Warriors. Wilt, whose biggest fault was free-throw shooting, made 28 of 32, an NBA record.

8. March 12, 1970: Rockets vs Royals

What is the highest NBA score in one game?
Oscar Robertson, no.14 of the Cincinnati Royals against the Los Angeles Lakers defense at the Cincinnati Garden In Cincinnati, Ohio. Robertson played for the Royals from 1960-70. Photo: Focus On Sport
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Cincinnati Royals defeated San Diego Rockets, 165-151

The Royals didn't need a big bench. All five starters scored more than 20 points against the Rockets, while their two reserves added 16 points. Four starters scored 28 or more.

Oscar Robertson's 28-12-13 triple-double wasn't the best scoring performance. Tony Van Arsdale scored 36 points on.552% shooting. Rockets' Elvin Hayes scored 40 points.

7. January 11, 1984: Spurs vs Nuggets

Highest scoring NBA game of all time
JaMychal Green, #0 of the Denver Nuggets dunks against Jakob Poeltl, #25 of the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena on October 22, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: San Antonio Spurs defeated Denver Nuggets, 163-155

San Antonio Spurs defeated Denver Nuggets, 163-155s was then the NBA's highest-scoring regulation game. Kiki Vandeweghe scored 50 points for the Nuggets, and George Gervin had 38. Six of the 20 players didn't score in double figures. Spurs beat Nuggets despite both teams shooting 54.5% from the field.

6. November 2, 1990: Warriors vs Nuggets

Highest scoring NBA game by one team
The Golden State Warriors played the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Golden State Warriors defeated Denver Nuggets 162-158

The Nuggets opened the 1990-91 NBA season against the Warriors' Run TMC. Warriors beat the Nuggets in a high-scoring, tight contest. In regulation, both teams scored 320 points.

Chris Mullin scored 38 points, and Tim Hardaway had 32 and 18 assists. Mitch Richmond added 29 points. Orlando Woolridge scored 37 points, while Walter Davis added 33.

Denver missed two important shots in the closing minute, and Rod Higgins won the game with two free throws. The Warriors didn't play much defense during the Run TMC era, so it's not surprising that this game was so high-scoring.

5. October 30, 2019: Rockets vs Wizards

What is the highest scoring basketball game?
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) reverses course on Houston Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate (8) during first-half action at Capital One Arena. Photo: Jonathan Newton
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Houston Rockets defeated Washington Wizards 159-158

This game occurred during the 2019 World Series when the Washington Nationals faced off against the Houston Astros. James Harden's 59 points were 18.6% of the total. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, 17-12-10.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 46 points, and six teammates scored double digits. The Wizards are only the second team in history to lose despite scoring 140 points per 100 possessions. However, Harden's free throws with 2.4 seconds left in the game gave Houston the win.

4. December 7, 2006: Suns vs Nets

What is the highest NBA score in one game?
Kyrie Irving, #11 of the Brooklyn Nets controls the ball ahead of Mikal Bridges, #25 of the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on February 01, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Phoenix Suns defeated New Jersey Nets 161-157 (in double overtime)

This matchup featured Hall-of-Fame point guards Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Nash scored 42 points and added 13 assists for a double-double. His late-game three-pointer forced overtime. Kidd had 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists. Eleven players scored double figures besides Nash and Kidd.

The game included 34 lead changes and 21 ties, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Nash scored two game-winning free shots after getting fouled retrieving Boris Diaw's inbound pass.

3. March 6, 1982: Bucks vs Spurs

Who scored 70 points in an NBA game?
George Hill, #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks against Derrick White, #4 of the San Antonio Spurs in the first half at Fiserv Forum on October 30, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Patrick McDermott
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: San Antonio Spurs defeated Milwaukee Bucks 171-166 (in triple overtime)

Brian Winters, a reserve, scored 42 points. He made 13 straight field goals and two of four three-pointers. Junior Bridgeman, a reserve, scored 31 points.

Gervin and Mitchell scored 95 points on 64% shooting for the Spurs. Johnny Moore and Mike Bratz, had double-digit assists. The Bucks lost against the Spurs in triple overtime despite Winters' efforts.

The highest scoring NBA game shot clock era

Twenty-two years ago, on Dec 13, 1983, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime. It was, and remains, the highest-scoring game in NBA history.

2. December 13, 1983: Pistons vs Nuggets

Has there ever been a 200 point game in the NBA?
Nikola Jokic, #15 of the Denver Nuggets against Cory Joseph, #18 of the Detroit Pistons during the first quarter at Ball Arena on January 23, 2022, in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Ethan Mito
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Detroit Pistons defeated Denver Nuggets 186-184 (in triple overtime)

The NBA's highest-scoring game ever had 370 points. Vandeweghe and Alex English played 50 minutes and scored 51 and 47 points. Isiah Thomas led the offensive-minded Pistons with 47 points. John Long had 41 points. Four 40-point scorers in a game is an NBA record.

Both teams shot 56 per cent, making 142 field goals on 251 combined shots. Both teams shot 1-2 from 3-point range. Thomas had 17 of the NBA-record 93 assists. Kelly Tripucka scored 12 points in the second overtime to help the Pistons win.

Highest-scoring NBA game of all time

1. March 1, 2019: Bulls vs Hawks

What's the highest scoring NBA game in history?
Taj Gibson, #22 of the Chicago Bulls and Devin Harris, #34 of the Atlanta Hawks chase down a loose ball at the United Center on January 14, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Jonathan Dani
Source: Getty Images

Final Score: Chicago Bulls defeated Atlanta Hawks 168-161 (in quadruple overtime)

Throughout NBA history, only fourteen games have gone into four overtimes. Unfortunately, this contest between the Bulls and Hawks happened to be one of them.

Zach LaVine scored 49 points for the Bulls and just missed a triple-double. Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. each had 31-point double-doubles. Six Hawks scored double figures, including Trae Young (46 points, 16 assists), first rookie since Michael Jordan to score 25 points and 15 assists.

Young's step-back three with 2.2 seconds left gave Atlanta a 124-121 advantage. However, Porter Jr.'s three free throws forced overtime. The game then got back-and-forth.

Highest scoring NBA game 2022

Highest scoring NBA game shot clock era
Terry Rozier, #3 of the Charlotte Hornets goes up for a shot during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Todd Kirkland
Source: Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets posted the most points by a team in a game in 2021-22, with 158 points against the Pacers on January 26. Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns were tied for the most points in a game in 2021-22, with 60 points.

Highest scoring NBA game playoffs

The highest-scoring playoff game was the double-overtime game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns on May 11, 1992. The two teams scored 304 points, with the Trail Blazers defeating the Suns 153–151.

Highest scoring NBA game by one team

The Pistons won the historic game in triple-overtime 186-184. The Detroit Pistons have the most points by a team in a game, with 186 points versus the Nuggets on December 13, 1983.

What is the highest-scoring basketball game?

Highest scoring NBA game playoffs
Gary Harris, (14) of the Denver Nuggets catches a pass from Nikola Jokic, (15) against the Detroit Pistons on February 25, 2020. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz
Source: Getty Images

Two of the best offences in the NBA during the 1983-84 season produced one of the wildest games in NBA history on Dec 13, 1983. The Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime.

What is the highest NBA score in one game?

The highest-scoring regular-season game in NBA history was the triple-overtime game between the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets on December 13, 1983. The two teams scored 370 points, with the Pistons defeating the Nuggets 186–184.

Who scored 70 points in an NBA game?

Chamberlain owns most of the NBA records and will always make a list regarding scoring. Not only is he one of just six players with a 70-point game in his NBA career, but Chamberlain is also the only player in NBA history with multiple games of at least 70-points (he did it six times).

Has there ever been a 200-point game in the NBA?

No, the most points a team has scored in an NBA game is 186. The Detroit Pistons vs Denver, 186–184 in 3OT on Dec 13th, 1983.

The highest-scoring NBA game ever was on December 13, 1983. In this game, the Detroit Pistons defeated the Denver Nuggets with a score of 186-184 in a triple-overtime. The total points between both teams were 370.

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Kevin Omuya photo
Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.