Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia Warriors): 100 points
Defeated the New York Knicks (169-147), March 2, 1962
He is arguably the greatest stat machine in NBA history. On March 2, 1962, his team, the Philadelphia Warriors, hosted the New York Knicks. A 2.16m turn at halftime is already worth 41 points. In the second half, he added 59 and finished the match with 100 points. The greatest goal of all time in NBA history, a remarkable performance immortalized in a very famous photo.
Offensive cards, Wilt Chamberlain multiplied them. In the same 1961-1962 season, he scored 78 points (December 8), 73 points (January 13) and 72 points (March 11). Logically, he finished with an unreal points per game: 50.4 points. Pivot reached the 70-point mark twice more the following season. He still has four of the top six scoring performances in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers): 81 points
Win over Toronto Raptors (122-104), January 22, 2006
After leaving the Miami Heat in July 2004, Kobe Bryant, orphaned by Shaquille O’Neal, single-handedly controls the Lakers. Los Angeles’ playoff hopes alone. He averaged over 35 points per game in 2005-06. In December, he made his first card: 62 points in just three quarters against Dallas.
On January 22, 2006, “Black Mamba” did it again. His team hosts the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. He has just 26 points at halftime and no one is expecting a historic second half. With his team trailing by 18 points, Kobe Bryant took charge and scored 55 points in the final two quarters (122-104) and 81 points overall. In front of 18,000 spectators, a full-back achieves the second greatest goal-scoring performance in history behind Wilt Chamberlain.
David Thompson (Denver Nuggets): 73 points
Defeated Detroit Pistons (137-139), April 9, 1978
David Thompson competes with George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) for the scorer of the year. There is only one regular season meeting left and the two players are neck and neck. A ranged duel begins.
David Thompson starts the match with great skill (13/14 shooting) and ends the first quarter with 31 points, a new NBA record. The winger continues his show: 53 points at halftime. In the second half, he was less effective and finished with 73 points, scoring “only” 20 points. Despite this performance, he finished second in the race for the season’s leading scorer, narrowly beaten by Gervin (27.2 vs. 27.1 average).
Elgin Baylor (Los Angeles Lakers): 71 points
Win over the New York Knicks (123-108), November 15, 1960
Elgin Baylor, the most unlucky player in NBA history (he lost seven Finals!) spent more than a decade rubbing shoulders with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain (who would later become his Lakers teammate). At the start of the 1960-61 season, the winger set the NBA scoring record for the season when he traveled to Madison Square Garden. After two games with 40 and 45 points, he became the first player in history to break the 70-point mark.
Elgin Baylor had probably the best game of his career this fall, scoring 71 points to go along with 25 rebounds. The winger still holds the record for points in the finals with 61 points in 1962. But there is no title at the end.
Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers): 71 points
Win over Chicago Bulls (145-134), January 2, 2023
Donovan Mitchell, who was traded by Utah to Cleveland in early September, quickly found his place in Ohio. The back backed up his excellent start to the season (29.3 points average) with a historic performance against Chicago on Monday. Leading by 21 points at halftime, the Cavaliers started an incredible comeback under the momentum of their backs. He was the one who broke the overtime before dominating there: 13 points in five minutes. Mitchell leads his team to victory and finishes with 71 points. It’s the best offensive performance since Kobe Bryant’s 81 points in 2006 and, above all, a new franchise record.
David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs): 71 points
Defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (112-97), April 24, 1994
The main stake covers this last match of the 1993-1994 financial year. Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson are battling it out to finish as the regular season’s leading scorer. Before meeting the Clippers, “Spurs” are slightly behind the Orlando Magic (0.06 point difference). But all of San Antonio is behind the Admiral. This puts the foot of the match on the floor and earns his team’s first 18 points. His teammates serve him in the post as soon as they get the chance. David Robinson breaks loose in the second half. He scored 47 more points to eclipse George Gervin’s career high (52) and franchise mark (63). With 71 points, the goal is achieved: the “Spurs” player wins the title of the best scorer of the regular season (29.8 points on average).
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns): 70 points
Lost to Boston Celtics (120-130), March 24, 2017
The Suns travel to Boston in a season where Phoenix has languished in the League’s underworld. After 70 games, Devin Booker’s teammates have already suffered 48 losses. For the second straight year in the NBA, America’s backcourt has an open offensive zone. He’ll enjoy it that night at TD Garden.
After an average first half, Devin Booker will make history in the second half. In front of a Celtics audience that couldn’t believe their eyes, the young player chained baskets and gave up 51 points to the Boston defense, ending the game with 70 points on the clock. His teammates are stunned. At just 20 years old, he becomes the youngest player to reach this milestone. The Suns lose (120-130), but Booker makes history.