There are few joys in the sports landscape like watching a great player score in bunches.

So the most points in a game by an NBA player might be the league’s most celebrated record.

Great offense can beat great defense, and when the best players on the court get going, resistance is futile. There is no stopping some of the greatest scorers ever when they get going.

Everyone knows Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point effort is the single-game scoring record. Out of all the incredible chapters of Chamberlain’s storied career, the number 100 is more synonymous with him than anything else.

But here’s the rest of the list of the top-scoring performances of all time.

1. 100 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York Knicks (March 2, 1962)

Some conspiracy theorists don’t believe it ever happened. It’s a myth, a legend, or just a story that has been told so many times that everyone now believes it.

That’s probably because it took place in Hershey, Pennsylvania and was not televised. In fact, no video of the game has ever emerged. It turned out to be the last regular-season game that the Warriors played in the state of Pennsylvania. It was No. 76 of an 80-game season; the team would finish that season playing its last four regular-season games on the road.

On the historic record-breaking night in March, the crowd of 4,124 fans in Hershey witnessed a first half in which the score stood Warriors 79, Knicks 68, Wilt 41. He had hit 14 of 26 shots from the floor, and 13 of 14 from the foul line. At the end of the third, Chamberlain had 69 points.

Wilt’s final basket came with 46 seconds left. The Warriors’ victory went into the books with a score of 169-147, setting a record at the time for the most combined points in an NBA game. But as the radio announcer went off the air, he gave the final score as 169-150. To this day, it’s unclear which Knicks total is accurate.

There are some still photographs of Wilt in action primarily shot by Associated Press photographer Paul Vathis, who also took the iconic post-game photo of Wilt in the locker room, holding up a piece of paper with “100” written on it (top of this story).

2. 81 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors (Jan. 22, 2006)

Bryant’s 81-point game is almost as famous as Chamberlain’s 100. It’s the only other time in NBA history a player has scored 80 or more points in a game.

To say the offense was centered around Kobe that day would be an understatement. He took 46 of his team’s 88 field-goal attempts, 20 of the Lakers’ 33 free throws and only had two assists. But he still maintained his efficiency despite the insane workload, as he shot 61% from the field, 54% from 3-point range, and 90% from the line.

Although the final score may indicate the game was a blowout, that wasn’t really the case. The Raptors built an early lead and led by 14 at halftime.

The Lakers turned it around quickly in the second half though, outscoring the Raptors 42-22 in the third quarter with the 18-time All-Star chipping in a casual 27 points in the third. And then he outdid himself in the fourth, shaking off an early technical and scoring 28 to close out his 81-point performance.

Despite the rising efficiencies of offenses in the last decade, no one has scored more than 73 points in a game since Bryant’s career-high mark in 2006.

3. 78 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Dec. 8, 1961)

Before his big night in Hershey in March of the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain played in all 63 minutes (of course) in a triple-overtime loss to the Lakers.

Along the way, Wilt finished with an NBA’s highest-scoring game (at the time) of 78 points, breaking the mark of 71 points established by the Lakers’ Elgin Baylor 13 months earlier.

By the way, Baylor scored 63 and teammate Jerry West had 32 in that triple-overtime game, while none of Wilt’s teammates scored as many as 20. Chamberlain also pulled down a ridiculous 43 rebounds for good measure.

Then on Jan. 13 against the Chicago Packers, a first-year expansion team that would eventually answer to the name of Washington Wizards, Wilt poured in 73 points, breaking Baylor’s NBA record for a regulation-length game.

The Best of the Rest:

  • T-4. 73 – Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks (Jan. 26, 2024)
  • T-4. 73 – David Thompson, Denver Nuggets vs. Detroit Pistons (April 9, 1978)
  • T-4. 73 – Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors vs. New York Knicks (Nov. 16, 1962)
  • T-4. 73 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors vs. Chicago Packers (Jan. 13, 1962)
  • 8. 72 – Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Nov. 3, 1962)
  • T-9. 71 – Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers vs. New York Knicks (Nov. 15, 1960)
  • T-9. 71 – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets (Feb. 26, 2023)
  • T-9. 71 – Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls (Jan. 2, 2023)
  • T-9. 71 – David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers (April 24, 1994)
  • T-13. 70 – Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics (March 24, 2017)
  • T-13. 70 – Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors vs. Syracuse Nationals (March 10, 1963)
  • T-13. 70 – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers vs. San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 22, 2024)
  • 16. 69 – Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (March 28, 1990)

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