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Six biggest NBA comebacks of all-time

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When looking at the biggest NBA comeback ever it is hard to work out exactly how it happened. The genesis of the biggest NBA comeback ever is that one team had to be so much better than the other that the score got out of control. For the game to then completely turn around at the point that TVs have been switched off all over the country makes no sense.

But it happens.

It could be an untimely injury. It could be players relaxing until momentum has swung. It could be a coach emptying his bench too early. Whatever it is, the largest NBA comebacks are something to behold. Here is a look at some of the best/worst depending on which of the two teams involved you cheer for.

Biggest NBA comeback

There are a variety of ways to achieve the biggest NBA comeback. From single game point swings to the biggest NBA comeback in the fourth quarter to a series that appeared over. All the entries below involved one team rising like a Phoenix from the jaws of defeat.

Jazz vs Nuggets – November 27, 1996

It only seems right to start with the biggest single-game comeback in NBA history. The Utah Jazz was down by as many as 36 points at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, but they fought back to win.


The monster deficit occurred late in the second quarter and the Jazz were down a ridiculous 70-36 as the game hit the half. The Jazz, however, caught fire collectively after the break. They stormed back, outscoring Denver by 40 points in the second half on their way to a 107-103 win.

It also took Denver going ice cold, the Nuggets scored just 33 second-half points, in what is also one of the biggest sporting chokes of all time.

Kings vs Bulls – December 21, 2009

The Sacramento Kings missed the top spot by just one point as they came back from 35 points down in the regular season contest against the Chicago Bulls.

The Kings were down 79-44 at one point in the game and appeared to be heading for a huge defeat.


Instead, Sacramento went on a 19 to 5 run in the third quarter to bring the score down to something that was getting close to manageable.

The Bulls stopped that run, before completely falling apart as the Kings went off again, this time with a 22 to 7 run in the fourth. The Kings eventually won 102-98 in a game that was truly remarkable for the Bulls letting their grip slide on two different occasions.

Cektics vs Lakers – NBA Finals Game 4, 2008

This game is the biggest NBA Finals comeback over the last 40 years or so. The Celtics had a first-quarter to forget. They missed everything on offense and couldn’t stop the Lakers defensively.

The result was that Los Angeles was up 35-14 before the second quarter even began. It didn’t really get much better than that for a long period for the Celtics, they were down by 24 points at one point in the third quarter and still trailed 72-57 with just under five minutes to play in that stanza.

That is when the Celtics turned it up.

They ended the third quarter on a 21-3 run, something that didn’t seem possible until it started, bringing the score back to an unfathomable 73-71.

The Celtics got 35 points from their bench, grabbed the lead with four minutes left, and went on to win that game and then the title in six.

Reggie Miller scores 8 points in 8.9 seconds

This one happened all the way back on May 7, 1995.

Even with that said, watching it today it still feels like the New York Knicks are going to beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

The Knicks are up 105-99 with 18.7 seconds on the clock.

This is where Reggie Miller takes over.

A clutch three-pointer is backed up immediately by Miller stealing the inbounds pass, dribbling to the three-point line again, and hitting an even more clutch trey. John Starks goes to the free-throw line thanks to an inexplicable Indiana foul but misses both shots.

Patrick Ewing misses a jumper on the rebound and Miller is fouled as he claims that board.

Miller, with ice in his veins, nails his two free throws, and the Knicks never get another shot off. It is remarkable viewing.

Clippers vs Warriors – 2019 Western Conference first-round

The greatest comeback in playoff history saw the Los Angeles Clippers come roaring back to beat the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, a loaded team with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson, led the game 94-63 in the third quarter.

The 31-point lead looked completely insurmountable, but the Clippers bench took over.

They outscored the Warriors 72-37 the rest of the way, winning the game 135-131 and tying the series at one each in the process. The comeback was partly spurred by fouls, with the two teams combining for 76 free throw attempts.

Tracy McGrady scores 13 points in 35 seconds

The Reggie Miller game may have been more important in context, but in terms of individual scoring output this effort by Tracy McGrady on December 9, 2004 trumps Reggie.

The Houston Rockets were down 76-68 with less than a minute left when McGrady went all NBA Jam level on fire on the San Antonio Spurs.

Four three-pointers, the second of which was a four-point play, later and the Rockets won the battle of Texas 81-80. That the Spurs went on to win the NBA Title that season based on their defensive excellence says everything about this McGrady masterclass.

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