The NBA single-game regular-season record for points scored by a player was set nearly six decades ago, and no one has come close to breaking it since.
On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points, and pulled down 25 boards, as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors in a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. Chamberlain went 36-for-63 from the field and 28-for-32 at the charity stripe, reaching the 100-point mark with a field goal in the game's final minute. The Hall of Fame center also held the previous record of 78 points (which he set earlier in the 1961-62 season), but crushed that mark just months later, reaching triple digits.
On the list of the highest single-game scoring outputs in NBA history, Chamberlain’s name comes up a ton. Chamberlain, who is seventh on the all-time scoring list, accounts for 32 of the 76 times an NBA player has scored at least 60 points in a game. The Big Dipper reached the 70-point mark six times, and there have only been five other 70-plus-point games in league history.
Not only has no one been able to even sniff Chamberlain’s 100-point record, but just one player has topped his second-best scoring game of 78 points.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant put up 81 points to power a comeback victory over the Toronto Raptors in January 2006. Bryant scored 55 of his 81 points after halftime as Los Angeles turned an 18-point third-quarter deficit into an 18-point win. He knocked down two free throws with 43 seconds remaining for his 80th and 81st points, finishing 28 of 46 from the field, 7 of 13 from 3 and 18 of 20 from the free throw line.
There are four other players who have scored at least 70 points in a game. Elgin Baylor was the first NBA player to have a 70-point game when he had a 71-point, 25-rebound effort as a member of the Lakers in November 1960. Chamberlain broke Baylor’s record the following year with his 78-point game, which actually came in a loss to Baylor, who scored 63 points in the matchup, and the Lakers.
Golden State Warriors
The next non-Chamberlain 70-point game after Baylor’s came in April 1978 when David Thompson poured in 73 points with the Denver Nuggets. That was followed by The Admiral, former San Antonio Spurs big man David Robinson, in April 1994 with a 71-point game.
Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker snagged a 70-point game as a second-year pro when he scored 51 second-half points and 70 total in a March 2017 loss to the Boston Celtics. He made six free throws in the game’s final 45 seconds to reach the milestone.
The most recent 70-point-plus game came from Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell scored 71 points -- the highest single-game points total since Bryant's 81 -- on Jan. 2, when the Cavs defeated the Chicago Bulls 145-134 in overtime.
Here's a look at the other players who have come closest to breaking the illustrious record:
What are the most points scored by an NBA player in the playoffs?
The single-game playoff scoring record belongs to Michael Jordan, who put up 63 points in Game 2 of the 1986 Eastern Conference first round against Boston. Jordan’s record-setting night wasn’t enough for the Chicago Bulls to win the game, falling 135-131 in overtime.
Jordan just barely beat previous record-holder Baylor’s mark of 61 points, which Baylor tallied in a Lakers Game 5 1962 NBA Finals win over the Celtics. Baylor’s 61 points still stand as the record for most scored in a Finals game.
Baylor and Jordan are the only NBA players to score at least 60 points in the postseason. Current Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell has come closest out of anyone to joining that rare club. He opened the first round of the 2020 “bubble” playoffs with a 57-point night in an overtime loss to Denver.
What are the most points scored by an NBA player in the regular season?
Here are the top single-game regular-season scoring performances in NBA history (per Basketball-Reference):
1. Wilt Chamberlain: 100
2. Kobe Bryant: 81
3. Wilt Chamberlain: 78
T-4. Wilt Chamberlain: 73 (twice)
T-4. David Thompson: 73
7. Wilt Chamberlain: 72
T-8. Donovan Mitchell: 71
T-8. David Robinson: 71
T-8: Elgin Baylor: 71
T-11. Devin Booker: 70
T-11. Wilt Chamberlain: 70
13. Michael Jordan: 69
T-14. Pete Maravich: 68
T-14. Wilt Chamberlain: 68
16. Wilt Chamberlain: 67 (four times)
20. Wilt Chamberlain: 66
T-21. Kobe Bryant: 65
T-22. Wilt Chamberlain: 65 (three times)
T-25. Michael Jordan: 64
T-25: Rick Barry: 64
T-25: Elgin Baylor: 64
T-28. George Gervin: 63
T-28. Wilt Chamberlain: 63 (twice)
T-28. Jerry West: 63
T-28. Elgin Baylor: 63
T-28. Joe Fulks: 63
T-34. Stephen Curry: 62
T-34. Carmelo Anthony: 62
T-34. Kobe Bryant: 62
T-34: Tracy McGrady: 62
T-34. Wilt Chamberlain: 62 (six times)