There is always that one player that you never wanted to play against when your favorite team was playing. Some of the best scorers like Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan were tough to guard. Nobody wanted to guard them because it was going to be a long night. In today’s league, James Harden is showing some of that of his own.
Each franchise would still have to be ready though, even if that meant a historic night. Some players have found their way into the record books for their nights. These players were the best to ever do it against their opponents. These are the most points scored by one player against every NBA team.
* Regular season and playoffs games are included
Atlanta Hawks - 67 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain owns the most, second-most, and third-most points scored against the Hawks in a single game. On February 17, 1962, Chamberlain made 26 of 44 shots to score 67 points. That also included a 15 for 20 night at the free-throw line. He added 28 rebounds as well. At the time, the Hawks were still based in St. Louis.
Boston Celtics - 70 Points, Devin Booker
On March 24, 2017, Booker’s comparisons to Kobe Bryant began. A lot of that had to do his Booker being the first player to crack 70 points since Bryant. At the time, Booker was only in his second season with the Suns. Booker made 21 of 40 shots, collected eight rebounds, and dished out six assists. His 70-point night beat out Elgin Baylor’s old record of 63 points in 1959.
Brooklyn Nets - 60 Points, Damian Lillard And Bernard King
Two players have scored at least 60 points against the Nets. Lillard is the most recent player to do it. Lillard made 19 of 33 shots, including seven three-pointers, on November 8, 2019. That included a perfect 15 for 15 at the free-throw line.
As for King, he set the Christmas Day record for points in a game with 60 as his Knicks came up short despite the high point total.
Charlotte Hornets - 62 Points, Carmelo Anthony
Two players have ever scored at least 60 points against the Hornets. Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points, where he made 23 of 35 shots, 6 of 11 three-pointers, and a perfect 10 for 10 at the line. This was done on January 24, 2014. That same season, on March 3, LeBron James scored 61 points, nearly breaking Anthony’s record.
Cleveland Cavaliers - 69 Points, Michael Jordan
Only one player has ever scored at least 60 points in a game against the Cavaliers and that was Michael Jordan. On March 28, 1990, Jordan made 23 of 37 shots and pulled down 18 rebounds. At the free-throw line, Jordan made 21 of 23 shots to put a stamp on a legendary performance. In that game, Jordan played 50 minutes but came up short of putting up 70.
Chicago Bulls - 68 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Since Jordan spent most of his career in a Bulls uniform, he wasn’t going to be the guy that put up big numbers against the team. That was instead Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 68 points on December 16, 1967. Chamberlain shot 75% from the field, making 30 of 40 shots, but had a chance for at least 75 points. At the free-throw, Chamberlain made only 8 of 22 shots.
Dallas Mavericks - 62 Points, Kobe Bryant
In the 2020-2021 season, Damian Lillard came up one point short of breaking this record by scoring 61 points. For now, the record remains with Bryant, who scored 62 points in 33 minutes of action. Had he played longer, we might be talking about another 80-point game. He scored 62 points by making just 18 shots but also converted 22 of 25 free throws.
Denver Nuggets - 57 Points, Donovan Mitchell
This record once belonged to Adrian Dantley, who scored 55 points, but Donovan Mitchell upped it by two on a grand stage. In Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs in 2020, Mitchell scored 57 points in what was a tight battle with Jamal Murray. The Nuggets won the game 135-127 in overtime as Murray scored 36 of his own. Mitchell made 19 of 33 shots and was perfect at the free-throw line, 13 of 13.
Detroit Pistons - 73 Points, David Thompson
The highlight of David Thompson’s career probably came on April 9, 1978, when he erupted for 73 points. Thompson made 28 of 38 shots with zero three-point baskets. Combined with his 17 of 20 shooting at the line, what Thompson did was spectacular. The three-point line was not installed until 1979.
Golden State Warriors - 63 Points, Elgin Baylor
Three players have scored at least 60 points against the Warriors. Damian Lillard scored 61 points in 2020, while Wilt Chamberlain scored 62 points in 1966. The greatest game against the Warriors was Elgin Baylor, who scored 63 points on December 8, 1961. Baylor had a tough shooting night as he made only 23 of 55 shots, as well as 17 of 24 shots at the free-throw line.
Houston Rockets - 58 Points, Allen Iverson
In 50 minutes of action, Iverson exploded for 58 points and shot 50% from the field on January 15, 2002. Iverson made 21 of 42 shots and was a perfect 14 of 14 at the free-throw line. Iverson only took three attempts from behind the three-point line, where he made shots. Most of this production came inside. We shouldn’t be surprised as Iverson was never scared of a challenge.
Indiana Pacers - 60 Points, Klay Thompson
Fresh off winning an NBA record for games, the Warriors didn’t slow down. Thompson displayed one of the greatest shooting nights we have seen in the modern era. Thompson made 8 of 14 shots from three-point range, as well as 21 of 33 shots total. That comes out to 63.6% shooting and Thompson made 10 of 11 shots at the free-throw line.
Los Angeles Clippers - 71 Points, David Robinson
In 2001, Shaquille O’Neal made a run at Robinson’s record when he scored 61 points, but the best game against the Clippers was when David Robinson scored 71 points on April 24, 1994. Robinson made 26 of 41 shots, which included making one of two three-pointers. Robinson made 18 of 25 free throws as well. Out of all the legendary feats Robinson did with the Spurs, this ranks near the top.
Los Angeles Lakers - 78 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain loved playing the Lakers. In the history of the NBA, Chamberlain scored at least 60 points seven times. The only player that has scored at least 60 points was Gilbert Arenas, who scored 60 points in 2006. As for Chamberlain, he made 31 of 62 shots and pulled down an amazing 43 rebounds. It was a tough day at the free-throw line though, where Chamberlain made 16 of 31 shots.
Memphis Grizzlies - 60 Points, Kobe Bryant
Two times in 2019, James Harden nearly scored 60 points but came up a handful of points short. The only player to top 60 points was Bryant on March 22, 2007. Bryant made 20 of 37 shots from the field and 17 of 18 shots at the free-throw line. That was part of a sensational season where Byrant led the league in scoring.
Miami Heat - 58 Points, James Harden
Willie Button scored 53 points in 1994, but Harden moved past him with a 58-point effort on February 28, 2019. Harden had a double-double for the night with 10 assists as well. Harden made 16 of 32 shots from the field, including a perfect 18 of 18 at the free-throw line. Harden’s biggest woe came from outside, where he made 8 of 18 three-pointers.
Milwaukee Bucks - 61 Points, Karl Malone
In 2020, Bradley Beal came close to Malone’s record with 55 points, but Malone remains the only player to ever score at least 60 points against the Bucks. Malone made 21 of 26 shots from the field and didn’t attempt a single three-pointer. Malone was nearly spot on at the free-throw line as well, making 19 of 23 attempts. Malone also pulled down 18 rebounds in a great double-double night.
Minnesota Timberwolves - 55 Points, Tony Parker
Last season, Jayson Tatum was close to taking over this record with a 53-point effort of his own. However, on November 5, 2008, Parker scored 55 points, which remains the best. Parker made 22 of 36 shots, dished out 10 assists, and pulled down seven rebounds. Tatum was 6 of 10 from the three-point line, so had one more gone down, we would be talking about a different player.
New Orleans Pelicans - 54 Points, Damon Stoudemire
During Steph Curry’s unanimous MVP year, he came up with just one point from overtaking this record. His 53 points remain under Damon Stoudemire, who scored 54 points on January 14, 2005. That night, Stoudemire made 20 of 32 shots, including shooting 50% from three-point range, making 8 of 16 shots. He attempted and made all six free throws. Had he got to the line more, we would have been talking about a 60-point night.
New York Knicks - 100 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
The greatest scoring night ever came against the Knicks. The single-game NBA record of 100 points on March 2, 1962, remains a record today. Chamberlain made 36 of 63 shots from the field and had one of his best free-throw shooting nights, making 28 of 32 at the line. Chamberlain also pulled down 25 rebounds in what remains the greatest scoring night ever.
Oklahoma City Thunder - 60 Points, Tom Chambers
Tom Chambers might not be a name you were expecting to see here, but Chambers mustered up 60 points against the then-Seattle SuperSonics on March 24, 1990. Chambers made 22 of 32 shots from the field and 16 of 18 at the free-throw line. Chambers didn’t attempt a three-point shot either. The closest player today was LaMarcus Aldridge in 2019 when he scored 56 points, which would technically be the most against the Thunder if you are judging names.
Orlando Magic - 64 Points, Michael Jordan
Three players have scored at least 60 points against the Magic. James Harden scored 60 in 2018, while Allen Iverson scored 60 in 2005. The greatest performance against Orlando came on January 16, 1993, where Jordan made 27 of 49 shots, including 9 of 11 at the line. Jordan made one out of five three-point attempts in what was a night of Jordan driving to the lane.
Philadelphia 76ers - 70 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain scored at least 60 points against the 76ers four times in his career. The other two players to do it were Bradley Beal (60 points) last season and Kemba Walker (60 points) in 2018. As for the best, Chamberlain made 27 of 38 shots from the field and 16 of 22 shots at the free-throw line. Chamberlain also pulled down 18 rebounds, which was low considering what he did in some of his other games.
Phoenix Suns - 66 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
The second-most on this list was Gilbert Arenas in 2006 when he scored 54 points. Other than that, nobody besides Chamberlain has been able to hang at least 60 points on the Suns. On February 8, 1969, Chamberlain made 29 of 35 shots, which came out to 82.9% shooting. Chamberlain made only 8 of 18 shots at the free-throw line, which contributed to him missing out on 70 points.
Portland Trail Blazers - 65 Points, Kobe Bryant
Three players have scored at least 60 points against Portland. Steph Curry scored 61 points last season, while Rick Barry scored 64 points in 1974. The best game came from Bryant, where he made 23 of 39 shots from the field, including 8 of 12 from the three-point line. This happened in March 2007, the same season that Bryant won the league’s scoring title.
Sacramento Kings - 65 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Eight of the top 10 best games against the Kings came from Chamberlain. The only other two players were Rick Barry and George Mikan. Chamberlain scored at least 60 points against the Kings four times and missed five times by one point. On February 13, 1962, Chamberlain made 24 of 60 shots with 22 rebounds to lead the 76ers past the then-Cincinnati Royals.
San Antonio Spurs - 61 Points, James Harden
Last season, Jayson Tatum came up short against another team for a spot on this list. Last year, Tatum scored 60 points in a regular-season matchup against the Spurs. Harden’s performance on March 22, 2019, remains at the top. Harden made 19 of 34 shots, including 9 of 13 from three-point range. At the free-throw line, Harden made 14 of 17 shots as well.
Toronto Raptors - 81 Points, Kobe Bryant
The second-greatest scoring night in the history of the NBA game against the Raptors was on January 22, 2006. Bryant became the second player ever to score at least 80 points in a game when he made 28 of 46 shots from the field, as well as 18 of 20 free throws at the line. Bryant also made 7 of 13 shots from three-point range. While the accomplishment remains heralded as an amazing accomplishment, you know that Bryant was still unhappy that he didn’t score 101.
Utah Jazz - 63 Points, George Gervin
In Bryant’s final game, he scored 60 points against the Jazz and nearly beat a record that has stood for a long time. George Gervin scored 63 points on April 9, 1978, where he made 23 of 49 shots from the field. Gervin made 17 of 20 attempts at the free-throw night as well. Gervin pulled down three rebounds and added two steals in a night where he was primarily focused on scoring.
Washington Wizards - 73 Points, Wilt Chamberlain
Before the Wizards moved to Washington, they were considered the Chicago Packers. During a game on January 13, 1962, Chamberlain scored 73 points. If you want to consider the Wizards’ name, you could say that Tracy McGrady would lead the list where he scored 62 points during the 2003-2004 season. On Chamberlain’s night, he made 29 of 48 shots from the field and 15 of 25 shots at the free-throw line.
Most By One Player
Wilt Chamberlain - 8
Kobe Bryant - 4
James Harden - 2
Michael Jordan - 2
Everyone Else - 1
If there was one player that your team didn’t want to face, historically speaking that player would be WIlt Chamberlain. Each night, Chamberlain was going to bring a tough offensive game to a stop. The numbers don’t lie as Chamberlain owns the most points against eight NBA franchises and ranks highly among several others.
The second most feared player would have to be Kobe Bryant. Four times Bryant set records for points against his opponents. Bryant is one of the greatest shooting guards of all time and his numbers also prove that as well. The fact that Michael Jordan is not higher comes as a surprise and James Harden is making an argument for the best scorer in the league post-Bryant.