There are plenty of bucket-getters in the NBA – from paint beasts like Joel Embiid and middy magicians like DeMar DeRozan to all-around scoring machines like Kevin Durant. However, few players can claim they’re part of the elite 70+ points club. In fact, with over 12900 games played in NBA’s long history, it’s only been done 13 times.
So, which NBA players have scored 70 points in a single game?
Has Anyone Scored 70 Points in an NBA Game?
The essence of basketball is to score more points than your opponent before the clock runs out. Scoring, therefore, is one of the most important things you can do on a basketball court.
However, it’s easier said than done because NBA players are elite defenders who can stop even the best offensive players in their tracks. This is why it’s so rare to see players score 70+ points in a game, let alone twice or more in their career.
But it has been done before, and with how the league evolves, it will certainly be done again. So, which NBA players have scored 70 points in a single game so far in the league’s history?
8 NBA Players Who Scored 70 Points in a Game
Scoring buckets in the NBA isn’t as easy as it looks. To be a prolific scorer, you need to be able to get open, make tough shots, and draw fouls.
That’s a lot of things to do well at the same time. Most players in the league are good at one or two of those things, but not all three. These guys, however, must have been blessed with natural scoring talent as they’ve all achieved this incredible feat in their illustrious NBA careers.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
No list of 70-point performers can be completed without the great Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain. The man once scored 100 points in a game and is the only player ever to do it in the NBA. He’s also the only one to have multiple 70+ points performances in his career.
He has career averages of 30.1 PPG and a whopping 22.9 RPG. And he did it all by shooting 54% from the field, making him one of the most efficient scorers ever. He also has the honor of having the most 70-point games in NBA history.
Wilt’s dominance on the basketball court was so resounding that it reverberated throughout the league in surprising ways. For example, sportswriter Gary Pomerantz once said of Wilt’s career, “It symbolically exploded the racial quota N.B.A. owners had that limited opportunities for Black players. If this wasn’t the intended effect, it was the ultimate result: The N.B.A. would be a white man’s enclave no more.”
Here’s a breakdown of his 70+ point performances:
78 Points on December 8, 1961: The man called “Stilt” first achieved this incredible scoring feat in a game against the LA Lakers. He scored 36 points in the first half alone and then added 42 more in the second half. He shot an astounding 50% from the field this night, making 31-of-62 field goal attempts. He also added 42 rebounds during that game. However, his effort would result in a loss against the Lakers, whose main scorer, Elgin Baylor, also put up an awe-inspiring 63 points.
73 Points on January 13, 1962: Just a bit over a month after he scored his unparalleled 78 points in a game, Chamberlain did it again. This time he took on the Chicago Bulls, and in front of his home crowd in Philadelphia, he scored 73 big points. He shot an amazing 60% from the field but a lackluster 60% from the free-throw line.
100 Points on March 2, 1962: While this game was the last 70+ points matchup that Wilt would play in his last season in a Philadelphia Warriors uniform, it would definitely be one of the most memorable as he scored a league-record 100 points in a single game – the most points scored in NBA game. It’s also quite noticeable that free throw numbers were off the charts, with a 28-for-32 shooting clip from the charity stripe, which translates to 87% – a rate that even the best shooters in the game strive for.
72 Points on March 3, 1962: Fresh off a trade from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Chamberlain had a chip on his shoulder trying to prove to Philadelphia that they’d made a grave mistake in trading him. He gave the league a run for its money by scoring 72 points again on the LA Lakers. This will be the start of Wilt’s offensive blitzkrieg on the entire league, as he will score more than 70 twice more in the same season.
73 Points on November 16, 1962: Wilt wasn’t even done making the defense look foolish on that November, as he’ll score 73 points again just a few days after. However, his rebounding is a bit more subdued this time around, with 14.
70 Points on March 10, 1963: The last 70-point game in Chamberlain’s career came at the expense of the Syracuse Royals. Wilt posted 70 points, 18 rebounds, and three assists, not too far from his previous two 70-point outings just four months prior.
2. Elgin Baylor
It wasn’t just Chamberlain putting on inspired scoring performances during the 60s. Elgin Baylor of the Lakers was also a certified bucket-getter who often clashed with “The Stilt” on the court.
Baylor was a much more finesse player than his rivals. He had hang time like no other and was a master at getting to the rim – this style of play results in many free-throw opportunities for the forward.
70 Points on November 15, 1960: Baylor’s best game came against the New York Knicks. He has the honor of being the first player to reach the 70-point marker in the NBA. He scored 71 points on 28 field goals made on 48 attempted goals. He also added 25 rebounds and one assist. Even the Knick’s owner, Ned Irish, was astonished. “That’s the greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen,” he said in an interview.
3. David Thompson
While you won’t find David Thompson’s name on top of any greatest Denver Nuggets list, he was the team’s primary scorer in the 70s. He had an electrifying style of play that involved acrobatic layups and thundering dunks, all thanks to his natural athletic abilities. He was also an excellent defender who could guard almost all positions on the court.
73 Points on April 9, 1978: Thompson wasn’t one to go after scoring titles. He didn’t go out every night trying to score 70 points. But, on that fateful day, everything seemed to go his way. It was Denver’s last game of the season, and every shot he put up just went in.
He went an astonishing 13-for-14 field goals and a perfect six for six from the charity stripe during that quarter, scoring 32 points. And with three quarters left in the game, there were plenty of scoring opportunities that presented itself to Thompson and he rolled on to a 73-point night. It was also the highest field goal percentage in any 70-point game at 73.1%, making it the most efficient offensive performance in NBA history.
4. David Robinson
“The Admiral” was always destined for greatness in the NBA. He had a powerful presence as a shot blocker who struck fear in opposing offenses. However, he was a complete player who was just as good at the offensive end of the floor as he was on the defensive end.
71 points on April 24, 1994: The 90s was the age of the big men and Robinson was one of the elite big men in the league back then. He showcased his scoring prowess with an array of post moves, jump shots, and dunks. He scored 28 points in the first half and added another 43 points in the second half. “From the opening tip, I was hot. In fact, I scored the Spurs’ first 18, accounting for all but two of our 20 first quarter points. Once my teammates realized that I had such a hot hand, they kept looking for me, trying to get me the ball,” Robinson himself, said in an interview.
This incredible scoring feat helped Robinson secure the NBA scoring title for the 1993-94 season, edging out Shaquille O’Neal. It’s also worth noting that it’s one of the first 70-point performances where the 3-pointer played a part in the point totals at the end of the game. Robinson scored on one of his two tries from beyond the arc.
5. Kobe Bryant
For a while, Kobe Bryant was the face of the league. He’s a charismatic player with a legendary work ethic. He even spawned the Mamba mentality that inspired many aspiring athletes to keep pushing themselves beyond their limits.
81 Points on January 22, 2006: The most important thing to remember about Bryant is that he’s a scorer. He’s a top 10 all-time scorer, and in his prime, he could drop 40 points in just about any game. Unfortunately, his scoring eruption happened at the expense of the Toronto Raptors. He scored 81 points in a nail-biter of a game.
Trailing by 18 at halftime, Bryant took over the Lakers’ offense and scored 55 points all in the second half. Kobe’s three-point shooting prowess also played a huge part in this performance as he shot 7-for-14 from the three-point land. As for what his opponents were thinking as Bryant was doing his thing, here’s what their coach had to say: “You saw me standing with my hands in my pockets? I can’t say on television the things that I was thinking or saying but handcuffed. I felt so bad for my guys.”
6. Devin Booker
When the Phoenix Suns drafted Devin Booker in 2015, they knew they were getting a scoring guard. But they probably had no idea how early his scoring talents would translate to points on the scoreboard. He upped his per-game scoring averages from 13.8 in his rookie season to 22.1 as a sophomore. We think his 70-point scoring burst has something to do with this rise in Booker’s scoring average.
70 Points on March 24, 2017: Devin Booker set out to prove that he was a legitimate NBA star in his second season after averaging a middling 13 PPG as a reserve as a rookie. He started it out by upping his stat line, from scoring and assists to rebounds and steals. He was also auditioning for the role of the team’s primary scorer at that time.
So, when they faced the Celtics on that fateful Boston spring day, he scored a total of 70 points on a ridiculous 52% field goal percentage. He also scored on 3-of-11 three-point attempts and an outstanding 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. In this game, Booker showed maturity beyond his years as he was just 20 years old when he did it.
7. Donovan Mitchell
With the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rebuild mode, Donovan Mitchell was the first piece of the puzzle that they’re trying to make. As a result of this unfinished project, he doesn’t have a lot of help on the offensive side of things yet. So, he’s expected to carry a heavy load of the scoring night after night.
71 Points on January 2, 2023: Trailing almost the entire time against Chicago, Mitchell had to put the offensive load on his back again in this game like he’s had to do for most of the 2023 season.
He was hot from beyond the three-point line but was also aggressive with his drives. So, if he doesn’t score on a layup or a floater finish, he’ll likely end up shooting a couple of free throws. He finished the game shooting 20-of-25 from the stripe. He also gave out 11 assists, making Mitchell’s effort the first 70-point double-double with assists instead of rebounds.
8. Damian Lillard
Lillard is an elite scorer, capable of putting up points from anywhere on the court. He has a quick first step, allowing him to drive to the basket effectively. His shooting range extends well beyond the three-point line, making him a constant threat to opposing defenses. His ability to score off the dribble, stay balanced during catch-and-shoot situations, and keep composed from the free-throw line make him a versatile offensive weapon.
71 Points on February 26, 2023: “Dame Time” as Damian Lillard is known throughout the league was the entire 48 minutes of the basketball game for Lillard on this day. He hit 22-of-38 field goal attempts and all 14 of his free throw opportunities. He also scored more than half of his point total from the three-point line with 13 made threes – just one short of tying the all-time three-point record in a single game.
Other Notable High-Scoring NBA Players in History
Sometimes, it’s not the point totals that matter. The “clutchness” factor, the scoring burst, and the ability to get buckets when the team needs them are also considered when thinking about all the great scorers.
Fans also look at a scorer’s consistency – whether they do their scoring across their entire careers like LeBron James or score only at high levels during their peaks like Tracy McGrady.
So, here are a couple more interesting high-scoring players:
While he hasn’t scored 70 points in a game yet, LeBron is the most prolific scorer ever in the NBA. He’s the highest-scoring NBA player and holds the record for the most points scored in the league, which currently sits at 38,652 points across his 20-year career. And if he doesn’t retire soon, it’s likely that he’d make the record even more difficult to break.
He also has the longest double-digit scoring streak ever at more than 1100 games, which is something that no one else has ever done. This means that “The King” has taken a day-off from scoring since 2007.
It would almost be blasphemous to have any scoring list without at least mentioning “His Airness”. And while he hasn’t really scored more than 70 points in a game, he’s had plenty of 50+ and 60+ games to make up for it. The scoring genius currently has the highest points per game average in NBA at 30.1 making him the undisputed greatest scorer of all time on a per game basis.
He also holds the record for leading the league in scoring during the regular season. He’s done it 10 times in his 15-year career.
Wrapping Things Up: Which NBA Players Have Scored 70 Points in a Single Game?
This list of 70-point performances has shown a trend in NBA scoring over the last several decades. Players are becoming more proficient at scoring from beyond the arc.
In the old days, players like Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor were leading the league in scoring with their ability to get to the line. As time has gone on, it’s become more important for players to be able to hit threes than it is to be adept at slashing and earning foul shots.
So, it’s highly likely that the next player to score 70 points will be a three-point shooting specialist like Stephen Curry. There are only a few players like that in the league right now, but we’ll have to wait and see who gets there first.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.