Breaking the Bucket: NBA Single Game Scoring Record

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(Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wondering who broke the NBA single game scoring record? Let's get in to it!

Over the course of it's 75+ year history, we've seen some crazy boxscores come out of NBA games. From dropping quadruple doubles to shooting 100% from the field, there has been some unimaginable performances.

Related: Best NBA Playoff Players of All-Time: Winning When It Counts

There is no individual stat in the record book that is chased quite like the single game scoring record. Because basketball puts such an emphasis on the individual, nabbing a spot on this list solidifies you as one of the greats, even if just for one night.

Here are the 30 highest single-game scoring performances in NBA history:

1. Wilt Chamberlain: 100 points

  • Date: March 2nd, 1962

If there's anything in the NBA history book that could be deemed as unbreakable, it would be Wilt's 100 point single game scoring record. This came in a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks, who were on their third string center.

The 1961-62 season was Wilt's best, averaging an NBA record 50.4 points per game. Chamberlain finds himself a number of times on this list, and many of those games came during this season. They should honestly just rename the NBA record book the Wilt Chamberlain encyclopedia.

The Rest of the List:

2. Kobe Bryant: 81 points

  • Date: January 22nd, 2006

There are few players whose lore can compete with the likes of the Mamba. Kobe went straight from high school to the NBA, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to play in a game. He helped lead the Lakers to three titles from 2000-2002. However, the stretch from 2003-2008 was a rough patch for the Lakers and Bryant. Despite not winning many games, Bryant put on the performance of a lifetime in 2006, putting in 81 points.

3. Wilt Chamberlain: 78 points

  • Date: December 8th, 1961

It's ridiculous that Wilt holds as many spots on this list as he does, but his second highest scoring performance was a modest 78 points. This came during the season where he would average an NBA record 50.4 points. This 78 point performance would come against the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did Wilt put in 78 points, but he grabbed 43 boards along the way.

4. David Thompson: 73 points

  • Date: April 8th, 1978

Before there was Kobe, there was Michael Jordan. But before Michael Jordan, we had the great David Thompson.

Many people don't know that Thompson was actually Jordan's idol growing up and was his biggest source of inspiration for becoming a basketball player. Thompson put up a ridiculous 73-point performance in 1978 against the Detroit Pistons. The Nuggets fell 139-137 in the game, but no one will forget what Thompson did on the court that night.

5. Wilt Chamberlain: 72 points

  • Date: November 3rd, 1962

Yes, we have Wilt Chamberlain for the third time in the top five. Imagine the THIRD best scoring performance of your life ranks as the mere fifth highest scoring performance in NBA history?

Chamberlain reached that feat in a 127-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. We will probably never see another player as dominant as Wilt Chamberlain in the NBA and I for one am okay with that (Unless he was playing for my Chicago Bulls).

6. Donovan Mitchell: 71 points

  • Date: January 2nd, 2023

It's no surprise at this point when Donovan Mitchell goes out and casually drops 40 or 50 point performances, but he shocked the NBA world when he dropped 71.

In an overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls, Donovan Mitchell went 22-34 from the field while going 7-15 from deep en route to the 71-point masterpiece. He also nabbed 11 assists and 8 rebounds, making him just two rebounds short of the highest scoring triple double in NBA history.

7. David Robinson: 71 points

  • Date: April 24th, 1994

David Robinson scoring 71 points and nabbing the 7th spot on this list might seem mystifying, but the reason he scored that many points is even more wild.

In just his second year, Shaquille O'Neal looked to have the NBA scoring title locked up with 2,345 points headed into the last game of the season, while Robinson was sitting with 2,312 points. However, the Admiral put up a career high 71 points in the final game, taking the scoring title from Shaq and furthering the growing beef between the two.

8. Elgin Baylor: 71 points

  • Date: November 15th, 1960

Elgin Baylor is undoubtedly one of the greatest NBA players to never win a ring, and it's tragic he doesn't have one. Baylor retired just 9 games into the 71-72 season, which would also be the year the Lakers won a championship. His best scoring performance came in 1960 against the New York Knicks where he put up an insane 71 point and 25 rebound performance en route to a Lakers win.

9. Devin Booker: 70 points

  • Date: March 24th, 2017

Devin Booker shocked the NBA world when he dropped 70 points at just 20 years of age. The shooting guard surely made his name known after this game, and led the Suns to an NBA finals performance just five years later.

In a 130-120 loss to the Boston Celtics, Booker put up 70 points on 21-40 shooting. What's most notable about this performance was that Booker only made four three pointers, and made up for that by going 24 for 26 from the free throw line.

10. Michael Jordan: 69 points

  • Date: March 28th, 1990

Before the 1990-91 season, everyone knew how great a scorer that Michael Jordan was, and his performance in March of 1990 is a large reason for that.

In a 117-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jordan scored an outrageous 69 points on 23-37 shooting. MJ also holds the record for most points in an NBA playoff game, scoring 63 in a first round loss against the Celtics in 1986.

Other Notable Performances:

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(Getty Images)

11. Pete Maravich: 68 points

12. Wilt Chamberlain: 68 points

13. Wilt Chamberlain: 67 points

14. Kobe Bryant: 65 points

15. Wilt Chamberlain: 65 points

16. Michael Jordan: 64 points

17. Rick Barry: 64 points

18. Elgin Baylor: 64 points

19. George Gervin: 63 points

20. Wilt Chamberlain: 63 points

21. Jerry West: 63 points

22. Elgin Baylor: 63 points

23. Joe Fulks: 63 points

24. Stephen Curry: 62 points

25. Carmelo Anthony: 62 points

26. Kobe Bryant: 62 points

27. Tracy Mcgrady: 62 points

28. Wilt Chamberlain: 62 points

29. Damian Lillard: 61 points

30. LeBron James: 61 points

Which player on the NBA single game scoring record list were you most surprised to see? Shoot us a message on Twitter @137pm and let us know!

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