One of the more common bets that you’ll see in basketball is on the totals. While the point spread can be a bit tricky to navigate for novice bettors, the total points scored line is easier as you don’t have to have too much inside knowledge of each team. Most bettors will also say that it’s more fun to bet the ‘over’ on the total, especially as teams start getting hot and baskets are dropping left and right.
There have been a handful of times in basketball history when the over was hit seemingly by halftime. Whether it was multiple overtimes which inflated the score or just two hot teams, these five games saw the most total points in NBA history. Let’s take a look at those extremely rare occasions and how they happened.
318 Points (Twice)
There have been two games that have hit 318 points total, with the first one not even needing overtime to reach new heights. The Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs met on January 11, 1984, and the two teams combined for 99 points in just one quarter, setting the new NBA record that hasn’t been touched since then. Kiki Vandeweghe led the way for Denver, scoring 50 points, while George Gervin put up 38 in the Spurs’ losing effort with a final score of 163-155.
The second time that two teams combined for 318 points came on December 7, 2006, as the Phoenix Suns defeated the New Jersey Nets 161-157. This game didn’t need just one overtime to reach the total, but two. Steve Nash led all scorers with 42 points while Shawn Marion added another 33 for the victors. As for the Nets, Jason Kidd (38) and Vince Carter (31) also had solid nights.
The November 2, 1990 game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets was perhaps one of the most interesting games in NBA history. Not only was it opening night for the 1990-91 season, but the game set the league record for most points in a game that didn’t go into overtime with 320. Golden State would prevail, defeating the Nuggets 162-158.
The Warriors shot an absurd 57.8 percent from the field, needing only a pair of three-point baskets to hit 162 points. Chris Mullin recorded a team-high 38 points while Tim Hardaway added 32 and Mitch Richmond added 29. Orlando Woolridge (37) and Walter Davis (33) put up fine performances for the Nuggets in the loss.
Reaching more than one overtime in the NBA is rarer than you might think, but reaching four overtimes is almost unheard of. When the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks met up on March 1, 2019, at the State Farm Arena in Georgia, they would end up needing all four overtimes to decide a winner, scoring a total of 329 points as the Bulls won 168-161.
Neither team was headed to the playoffs in this late-season matchup, which explains the lack of defense. Zach LaVine put up 47 points for the Bulls while Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen each added 31. Trae Young led all scorers in the game with 49 while no other member of the Hawks reached 25 points, surprisingly.
On March 6, 1982, a new standard for scoring was set in an NBA game when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the visiting Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 171-166 in triple overtime. Though the record wouldn’t last for a full two years, it was still far and away the highest-scoring game in NBA history at that point.
The two teams were tied 131-131 after regulation, and the highest scorers for the Bucks didn’t actually start the game. Brian Winters put up 42 points from the bench while Junior Bridgeman added another 31. As for the winning team, Mike Mitchell (45) and George Gervin (50) combined for more than half of the Spurs’ total.
In one of the most unbeatable records in NBA history, the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets made history on December 13, 1983, when they combined for 370 points in the Pistons’ 186-184 road win. At 33 points more than any other game in league history, nobody has come close in the several decades which have followed.
The game ended after three overtimes, and was already high-scoring in regulation as the Pistons and Nuggets were tied at 145-145. Isaiah Thomas (47), John Long (41), and Kelly Tripucka (35) all had huge games for the Pistons while Kiki Vandeweghe had his second big game on the list with 51 points. Alex English also added another 47 for Denver.