No Mercy: The Biggest Blowouts in NBA History During the Regular Season
This isn’t college basketball, and the biggest blowouts in NBA history aren’t all that common.
Sure, 20-point margins of victory are not atypical, but rarely do you ever see something like the Boston Celtics’ 53-point win over the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 26, 2022.
But, believe it or not, that rout, one of the largest of the 2021-22 season, doesn’t even crack the 10 biggest blowouts in the NBA record books. Nope, there’s a different blowout from that same campaign that takes the crown.
We’ll help you remember that one, along with the rest of the biggest runaways in league history.
Biggest Regular-Season Blowouts
73 Points – Memphis Grizzlies 152, Oklahoma City Thunder 79 (Dec. 2, 2021)
In the biggest blowout in NBA history, the surprising Grizzlies set franchise records for most points in a game and highest shooting percentage (62.5%)…and they were missing star point guard Ja Morant. Nine Grizzlies scored in double figures, with Jaren Jackson Jr. leading the way with 27. Memphis scored at least 31 points in each quarter and shot 52.8% from behind the arc.
Memphis had four players with a plus-minus above 40. OKC was missing starters Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, and the rest of the Thunder shot just 32.9% from the field.
68 Points – Cleveland Cavaliers 148, Miami Heat 80 (Dec. 17, 1991)
Yes, the Cavs and Heat had a history before the LeBron James saga. No Cavalier scored more than 18 points, a mark reached by Mark Price and John Battle. After leading at halftime 73-53, Cleveland outscored Miami 75-27 in the second half, including a 42-13 onslaught in the fourth quarter. Miami had only two players reach double figures (Steve Smith and Kevin Edwards), and Glen Rice was held to just nine points. Cleveland, which shot 57.3% as a team, eventually beat the Boston Celtics in the East semifinals before falling to the Bulls in the conference finals.
65 Points – Indiana Pacers 124, Portland Trail Blazers 59 (Feb. 27, 1998)
Most of these blowouts featured an offensive outburst by one team. But this one is different. Portland never scored more than 16 points in a single quarter. The Pacers put up 124, but five-time All-Star and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller only had 11 points (though he tied two other Pacers for the highest plus-minus). Go figure. Mark Jackson was the team’s leading scorer with 18 points, as Indiana had eight players reach double figures. Despite the blowout, the Trail Blazers finished the 1997-98 NBA season as the sixth seed in the Western Conference before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in seven games.
63 Points – Los Angeles Lakers 162, Golden State Warriors 99 (March 19, 1972)
The Warriors entered this late-season matchup with a 49-30 record. They still got run out of The Forum. Gail Goodrich scored 30 points on 11 of 17 shooting, Jim McMillian scored 22 and John Trapp scored 19. That 1971-72 Lakers team went on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the Western Conference finals and the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals. It had some guys named Jerry West, Pat Riley and four-time MVP Wilt Chamberlain. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. The Warriors actually outscored the Lakers 32-29 in the second quarter. Unfortunately for Golden State, it was outscored by the Lakers 133-67 during the other three quarters.
62 Points – Golden State Warriors 153, Sacramento Kings 91 (Nov. 2, 1991)
In just the second game of the season, the Warriors and Kings set, at the time, the second-largest margin of victory in NBA history with Golden State’s 62-point drubbing of Sacramento (it would quickly become the third-largest margin of victory in NBA history just over a month later). Chris Mullin, one of the best players in league history in terms of pure shooting ability, led the way with 32 points, six assists and seven rebounds. The Kings finished 29-53 – last in the Pacific Division – while the Warriors went 55-27 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference before falling to the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round.
62 Points – Syracuse Nationals 162, New York Knicks 100 (Dec. 25, 1960)
It was no merry Christmas for Knicks fans. Though the lowly Knicks, who finished with the worst record in the NBA that season, had two players finish with 21 points, they could not contain the Nationals offense. Ten players recorded minutes for Syracuse, and nine of them scored in double digits. Dave Gambee and Hall of Fame guard Hal Greer led the way with 24 points. The Nationals scored 39 points in each of the first two quarters, and 42 points in each of the last two.
- 61 Points – Charlotte Hornets 140, Memphis Grizzlies 79; March 22, 2018
- 59 Points – Milwaukee Bucks 143, Detroit Pistons 84; Dec. 26, 1978
- 59 Points – Golden State Warriors 150, Indiana Pacers 91; March 19, 1977
- 58 Points – Sacramento Kings 139, Dallas Mavericks 81; Dec. 29, 1992
- 58 Points – Milwaukee Bucks 140, Sacramento Kings 82; Dec. 15, 1985
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Research support provided by Quinton Bonnell.