During 60 years of NBA existence, there have been only 10 games, in which a player managed to score 70 points. As recently as this March 24, we saw the 11th. 20-year-old Phoenix defender Devin Booker is now among 5 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Elgin Baylor, 71
15 November 1960
Lakers – Knicks (123:108 win)
28 out of 48 games, 15 of 18 from the free throw line
Record of Joe Fulks – 63 points in 1949, at the time when the league was called the Basketball Association of America and was completely white – was retained for 10 years. In 1959 Elgin Baylor scored 1 point more, and a year later became the first to break the level of 70 points. Nevertheless, his record lasted 1 year only.
Wilt Chamberlain, 78
8 December 1961
Warriors – Lakers (147:151 loss)
31 out of 62 games, 16 of 31 from the free throw line
Mad battle, one of the greatest games in NBA history. Three overtimes (12:12, 12:12 and 18:14 – a good performance for 5 minute games), Elgin Baylor scored 63 points and NOBODY noticed! 4 future members of the Hall of Fame – Jerry West, Paul Arizin, Tom Gola and Guy Rodgers – took part in that game. A series of 14 games started from that match, in which at least 40 points was scored by Wilt. It was around that time he decided to chase a score of average 50 points in season.
Wilt Chamberlain, 73
13 January 1962
Warriors – Pacers (135:117 win)
29 out of 48 games, 15 of 25 from the free throw line
In January of that crazy season Wilt had more pointed tasks: firstly, he wanted to prove that the rookie Walt Bellamy – the second most productive newbie in NBA history after Wilt who was constantly compared with Chamberlain – cannot hold a candle to him. When it was done, Wilt scored 73 points against Bellamy’s 35, next day was remarkable for the match against Boston and the goal to beat Bill Russell. The Warriors lost, but Wilt scored 62 points more and impressed Red Auerbach so much that he decided to save Russell’s nerves and put a bench center against Wilt in the following two games with Warriors. Chamberlain continued to rip and tear, and hundred was simply inevitable.
Wilt Chamberlain, 100
2 March 1962
Warriors – Knicks (169:147 win)
36 out of 63 games, 28 of 32 from the free throw line
Books are written about this game. Good books, by the way, for example, “Wilt, 1962” by Charles Salzberg. Briefly about the game: it was held on neutral ground in the old hall of the small town of Hershey, where everything smelled of chocolate;
- Wilt had been partying all night, then in the morning drove from New York to the game by car; he set a record in the dash before the game;
- he continued not to miss in the match. He hit 28 free throws that for him was a unique case: allegedly, a loose basket helped, which “sucked in” even inaccurate throws;
- by the end of the game all played strictly against Wilt, while the opponents tried to foul other players, not to allow Chamberlain to score 100;
- Wilt scored the hundredth point only at the third attempt – only 46 seconds remained.
The game wasn’t shown on TV, so there’s no video. Radio broadcasts record was found only in 1988. All in all, this overgrown with myths game was real!
Wilt Chamberlain, 72
3 November 1962
Warriors – Lakers (115:127 win)
29 out of 48 games, 14 of 18 from the free throw line
Next season wasn’t as statistically unique as 61/62, when Wilt did 100 and Oscar averaged triple-double. However, Wilt started it at the same pace that he finished the previous one. He had to win fans in a new city – Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco that summer. The truth is that the most effective games at that period happened in front of other fans: at first, he scored 72 points in Los Angeles…
Wilt Chamberlain, 73
16 November 1962
Warriors – Knicks (127:111 win)
29 out of 43 games, 15 of 19 from the free throw line
…and then 73 in “New York” – record performance is still in the away match. However, Wilt started to be criticized for the fact that he shamelessly chased statistics, and center took offense: over the next 15 games the Warriors won only once, and Wilt, despite averaging 48 points, played passively, scored on defense, openly ratted out the coach.
Wilt Chamberlain, 70
10 March 1963
Warriors – Nationals (148:163 loss)
27 out of 38 games, 16 of 22 from the free throw line
All in all, a good started Warriors finished the season with only 31 wins and missed the playoffs. Wilt have scored 70 one more time, but after the opponent easily won in the same game with nine people scored 10 or more points, the next fifteen years no one, including Wilt, tried to overcome a level of 70 points.
David Thompson, 73
9 April 1978
Nuggets – Pistons (137:139 loss)
28 of 38 games, 17 of 20 from the free throw line
9 April 1978 – a shameful day for competitive basketball. Denver and San Antonio secured the second place in the West and East respectively. Yes, exactly! Spurs played in the Eastern conference. Team leaders – David Thompson and George Gervin – were betting on the title of the most productive player of the season. Thompson played the first, he scored 73 points, not caring about whether his team would win or lose. In this way he led his scoring average to 27.15 points. Then came Gervin, collected 63 points for three quarters, got a figure of 27.21 points per game and sat on the bench, allowing the teammates to miss the rest of the game against New Orleans. NBA does not forgive such attitude – neither Gervin’s, nor Thompson’s team reached the final.
David Robinson, 71
24 April 1994
Spurs – Clippers (112:97 win)
26 out of 41 games (1 of 2 three-pointers), 16 of 22 from the free throw line
When NBA player scored 70 points in one game second last time, Devin Booker wasn’t born yet. The story is similar to the previous – Admiral was fighting with Shaq for the title of the highest-scoring player and played at a later date. However, the Spurs achieved victory that time. But it wasn’t done without indecent tactics: in the last minute the SAS coach John Lucas made his players to foul on the opponent in order to give Robinson extra shots.
SAS lost to the Utah in the first round of the playoffs. During the entire series Robinson scored a total of just 9 points more than in the match against the LAC.
Kobe Bryant, 81
22 January 2006
Lakers – Raptors (122:104 win)
28 out of 46 games (7 out of 13 three-pointers), 18 of 20 from the free throw line
This game has gained even greater interest than Chamberlain’s 100 points.
It was the highest scoring game for the last 55 years, the second after the match in Hershey. And the most productive of all that we can review. Each time you watch the video, you cannot help wondering: “How was it possible?”
Devin Booker, 70
24 March 2017
Suns – Celtics (120:130 loss)
21 out of 40 games (4 of 11 three-pointers), 24 out of 26 from the free throw line
Phoenix openly loses this season to get the highest possible peak. They made experienced players to relax until the end of the season. They weren’t even trying to win matches. In the game against Boston we saw the second-youngest lineup in NBA history (the youngest were they in the previous game), which is younger than 15 of 16 teams, taking part in this year’s March Madness Sweet 16.
And when there’s only one player in the team capable of scoring points, the opponent already wins and doesn’t try to stop him (especially if the best defensive player is absent due to illness) and the team is happy to pass him over and over again, so that this terrible season would be remembered for something good. It is an ideal situation to achieve something that hasn’t been done before by any 20-year-old player. And that hasn’t been done for the past 11 years.
Of course, it’s not worth belittling the achievement of Booker and calling this match the cheating for the sake of statistics – NBA is full of “draining” games every year, and each team has people who are able to throw 40-50 times in a game and score more than half. But nobody wanted! 70 points is a different thing. Moreover, these 70 points from the 20-year-old Booker give Phoenix fans a hope that everything will be fine next year, and in a year – even better, and then another 10 years of joy that this smiling guy with shaved sides will bring.
And when your team is celebrating something after a crushing defeat – nothing left but hope. It really helps. Ask the fans of Philadelphia.
The highest scoring game of Michael Jordan – 69 points. Wilt scored 65 or more points 9 times, 68 points – a record of Pete Maravich, Kobe has in his collection a 65-point game.
The level of 60 points was also conquered by Joe Fulks, George Mikan, Jerry West, Rick Barry, George Gervin, Bernard King, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Tom Chambers, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Klay Thompson.