The biggest NBA blowout of all time really seems like something that shouldn’t ever happen. These are professional players that are paid to play basketball 365 days a year. It should be impossible for one team of professionals to so thoroughly dominate another that a blowout happens.
Yet it does.
The NBA blowout record was set just last year. This means that the biggest NBA blowout ever didn’t happen back when the league was finding its feet. Instead, it happened with all the modern sports science and nutrition and technology that goes into making the NBA as competitive as possible. Again, these blowouts shouldn’t happen, but when they do it is a story that required a double-take as a fan.
Biggest NBA blowout
Games that end in a blowout one way or another tend to be decided by runs. Momentum is a funny thing in sports and basketball might be the sport where momentum is most important. If one team is cold while another is hot early on, then you have the beginning of the anatomy of a blowout.
The longer the streak continues, the more likely it is that the trailing team won’t get back into contention. That certainly happened in all of the games on this list.
Grizzlies vs Thunder – December 2, 2021
The most one-sided NBA game ever is only a few months old at the time of writing.
The Memphis Grizzlies led from whistle to whistle and at one point were up by an insane 78 points. The biggest NBA blowout in history ended with the Grizzles winning 152-79, a margin of 73 points.
That Memphis achieved this without star scorer Ja Morant, who was missing with a knee problem, makes it even more astonishing. However, any time that a team shoots a franchise record from the field (62.5%) there is a chance that a blowout could be imminent.
Pacers VS Thunder – May 1, 2021
While not all the entries in this list will include the Oklahoma City Thunder getting smashed in 2021, they are back again for a second time already.
This matchup against the Indiana Pacers is noteworthy because the 152-95 win by the Pacers IN Oklahoma City is the biggest blowout of a team playing at home in the history of the league. It could have, almost unbelievably, been worse for the Thunder on a night where Pacers’ forward Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double by halftime.
The Pacers were up 67 points with just over four minutes remaining before the Thunder rattled off a 10-0 run to deny the Pacers any chance at posting the biggest NBA blowout ever which was 68 points at the time.
As you read above, the Thunder would soon change that.
Cavaliers vs Heat – December 18, 1991
While the Thunder topped this list (twice) the truth is that blowouts are generally less common today than they were in the 1990s. The ultimate 90s blowout came in this 1991 matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat in the Forest City. This rout saw the Cavs win 148-80, a 68-point margin of victory that wouldn’t be eclipsed for 20 years.
The best quote post-game came from Glen Rice of Miami who simply stated, “I don’t know what we played, but it wasn’t basketball.”
One of the wild stats in this one is that though the Cavs had eight players finishing the game in double figures for scoring, no player had as many as 20. It was almost as if the Heat gave up in this one, being outscored 75-27 in the second half and 42-13 in the final quarter. The two teams had also played just the week before in Miami, that one finished in a two-point Miami win.
Lakers vs Warriors – March 19, 1972
These biggest NBA blowout games all seem to happen around 20 years apart. In this case, the Los Angeles Lakers blew out the Golden State Warriors 162-99 roughly 19 years before the Cavs took their blowout crown.
In this game, the Warriors actually won the second quarter 32-29, but they scored a combined 67 points over the other three quarters while the Lakers topped 40 in each frame.
Los Angeles had only lost 12 games all season to this point and they were led by 30 points from Gail Goodrich in a starting five that also featured Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. It was a stacked team that went on to win the 1971-72 NBA Finals 4-1 over the New York Knicks.
Lakers vs Hawks – 1956 Playoffs
This game happened long enough ago that neither team was in its current city when this NBA blowout record for a playoff game took place.
The Minneapolis Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks 133-75, winning by a margin of 58 points.
The Lakers were dominant at every position on the court and every one of their players (smaller roster size than today) scored in double figures. The Hawks shot just 24% as a team but, almost unbelievably, they came back from this defeat to beat the Lakers in the Divisional Semifinals that year.
Nuggets vs Hornets – 2009 Playoffs
There have actually been two NBA playoff blowouts that ended with the victorious team claiming a 58-point win. While the Lakers won their game at home, the Denver Nuggets blew out the New Orleans Hornets 121-63 on their own floor in Game 4 of the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
The Hornets were miserable in shooting 31% from the field and 13% from behind the arc. The Nuggets, on the other hand, shot 57% from the field and 50% from three-point range. They were led in scoring on the day by prime Carmelo Anthony who put up 26 points as seven players finished in double figures.