Over the history of the NBA, there have been a ridiculous number of blowouts in the regular season. Whether it be the result of one team tanking and losing the game intentionally, a bad shooting night for one team, or just an extremely lopsided matchup, there are seven games that will be covered that got extremely out of hand.
#1: Oklahoma City Thunder 79 at Memphis Grizzlies 152 (73 points)
The biggest blowout in NBA regular season history came in the 2021 season in a December matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 2021 season went very differently for both teams. The Thunder were one of the youngest teams in NBA history. GM Sam Presti has done a wonderful job of turning the big three of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kevin Durant into loads of draft picks and young promising players. However, with the team being as young as they are, they were extremely inexperienced and did not have much on-the-court chemistry with each other.
It was clear that even coming into the season that the Thunder would be tanking for a high draft pick and that was exactly how the year played out for Oklahoma City. They would end up being one of the worst teams in the league, however, they are heading into the 2022 season with Chet Holmgren added to the team.
On the flip side of things, the Memphis Grizzlies also have a young core, however, with Ja Morant at the helm, the Grizzlies are in a much better place right now than the Thunder despite both having young teams. The 2021 season was a breakout year for the Grizzlies, making it to the second round of the playoffs where they were eliminated by the eventual championship-winning Golden State Warriors.
The game between the Thunder and the Grizzlies took place on December 2, 2021. Memphis was coming into the game hovering around a .500 record while the Thunder were losing much more games than they were winning.
Even early into the game, there were signs that the game was shaping up to be a blowout, however, no one could have predicted just how ugly this game would go on to be. At halftime, the Grizzlies were already doubling the Thunder up with the score heading into the half being 72-36 in favor of Memphis.
Despite the beating that they took in the first half, things would get even worse for Oklahoma City in the second half. The Thunder would go on to lose the game by a final score of 79-152. As previously mentioned, this would be the biggest blowout in NBA history by a final margin of 73 points.
Shockingly, the Grizzlies pulled off this historic feat without their best player suiting up for this game. Ja Morant was sidelined due to injuries and if he was able to take the court, the margin of victory may have been even wider.
In defense of the Thunder, their star player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was also sidelined for this matchup. With Oklahoma City’s offense running through him, they likely would not have suffered anywhere near as bad of a loss as they did if Gilgeous-Alexander was able to play.
#2: Cleveland Cavaliers 148 at Miami Heat 80 (68 points)
The next biggest blowout in NBA regular season history comes between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. This game took place on December 17th, 1991. Around this era, the Cavaliers were a consistent playoff-caliber team. They had an incredible one-two punch of Mark Price and Brad Daughtery.
However, the Heat were still a very young team. They did not join the NBA until the 1988 season meaning they would have only been in the NBA for around three seasons when this game took place. Taking a look at their roster gives a better idea as to why this game turned out the way it did.
While the Cavaliers had a star-studded roster around this time, the Heat were working with much less. It generally takes an expansion franchise years and sometimes even decades to become relevant after joining the league. Starting a roster almost from scratch while there are already teams competing for championships is an extremely tall task and can lead to games going like this one between the Cavs and Heat.
The Heat held their own for the most part in the first half, only falling behind by ten points in the first quarter and ten more points in the second quarter. However, they fell apart in the second half, specifically in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland grew their lead from 20 to 39 at the end of the third quarter, but they were still far from finished with embarrassing the Heat for the night. They piled on the points in the fourth quarter and finished the game on a 42-13 point run over the entirety of the fourth. The Cavaliers would win the game by a final score of 148-80 for a margin of victory of 68 points.
#3: Indiana Pacers 124 at Portland Trail Blazers 59 (65 points)
The next blowout is between the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers. There is not really an enormous underlying reason as to why this blowout occurred outside of an extremely rough night from the Trail Blazers.
The game took place on February 28, 1998. While the Pacers were a great team during this era, they were by no means a team that was expected to blow a team out by 65 points. However, they caught the Trail Blazers on the right night and completely dominated almost every single facet of the game.
It was clear that the Pacers were going to be in control of the game from the start. They took a 33-14 lead in the first quarter. In the second and third quarters, they added eleven points to their lead each quarter. The Pacers saved the worst they had for the Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers would go on to win the final period by a final score of 40-16 and won the game as a whole by a final score of 124-59. This is one of the very few times in the modern era that a team was defeated by more points than they scored. When taking a deeper look at the stat sheet shows just how bad of a game the Trail Blazers had and how dominant the Pacers were in this matchup. Indiana had 20 more rebounds, 11 more assists, six more steals, and five fewer turnovers. Along with this, the Pacers shot 30.3% better from the field, 43% better from three, and 35.2% better from the free throw line. With the Pacers controlling the glass along with shooting almost twice as better from the field, three-point line, and free throw line as the Trail Blazers, it is no question as to why they dominated the game to the level that they did.
#4: Los Angeles Lakers 162 at Golden State Warriors 99 (63 points)
The fourth-largest blowout in NBA regular season history came in a 1972 matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. During this era, there were two teams that dominated the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. As a result of the rosters that these two teams had, no one else in the league could really compete and no game is a better example of this on full display.
This Lakers team featured players like Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich. The Warriors were no slouch of a team this year by any means. After this matchup, they had a record of 49-30 and went on to make the playoffs. However, Los Angeles was hitting on all cylinders this game and it showed in the final score.
The Lakers got off to a very hot start in the first quarter, taking a commanding 42-24 lead. Golden State would show some life in the second quarter and put up a bit of a fight. The Warriors would win the second quarter 32-29, but this would be all of the fight that they had left in them for this game.
Despite the valiant effort that the Warriors showed to close out the first half, the Lakers would let them have it in the second half. Los Angeles won the second half by 47 points and would finish the game winning by 63 in total.
The Lakers would end up tearing up the stat sheet as a team as well. Along with leading in points at the end of the game, Los Angeles also led Golden State in rebounds by 19, and assists by 28. Steals and blocks were both stats that were not recorded in this era, so there is no way of knowing which team led those stats.
However, with Jerry West’s reputation of being able to poke the ball away from opposing point guards and Wilt Chamberlain’s elite shot-blocking ability it is safe to assume that the Lakers led both of those statistical categories in this game as well.
Along with this, the Lakers shot 26.9% better from the field and 9.5% better from the free throw line. All of these factors came together to culminate in the biggest blowout of this era.
#5: New York Knicks 100 at Syracuse Nationals 162 (62 points)
The game between the New York Knicks and Syracuse Nationals took place on Christmas Day in 1960. This would end up being a very rough Christmas for the New York Knicks and their fans as they would be on the wrong end of what would become the fifth biggest blowout in NBA history. With the game taking place in 1960, things like field goal attempts, blocks, steals, and turnovers were not yet being recorded.
Because of this, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong for the Knicks, however, it is clear that they were outmatched in this game and the Nationals did not show them any mercy.
Both the Nationals and the Knicks were not very good teams this season. The two franchises were both well under a .500 record at the time of this game. Despite this, there was still a vast difference in talent between the two teams when they faced off against each other. The Nationals would come out of the gates hot and took a commanding lead in the first half. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Nationals held a 27-point lead.
The third quarter would be the worst stretch of the game for the Knicks. In this quarter, their deficit grew by another 35 points. When the game finally ended, the final score was 162-100 in favor of the Nationals. All but one player on the Nationals’ entire roster fell short of scoring double-digit points, however, he was forced to exit the game early due to fouling out.
#6: Golden State Warriors 153 at Sacramento Kings 91 (62 points)
The final blowout that we will be taking a look at is also a 62-point blowout. This game came in the opening week of the 1991 season between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings. This would be a rough start to what would go on to be a horrendous season for the Kings.
They went on to be one of the worst teams in the league and they would continue to rebuild for a few more seasons. Golden State had a talented roster with Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway leading the team.
The Warriors would take control of the game almost instantly after the opening tip-off. They led by 30 points after the first quarter and the onslaught would continue in the second quarter as well. Heading into halftime, the Warriors had a 47-point lead heading into halftime.
The Sacramento Kings showed some life coming out of halftime and were able to keep pace with the Warriors. Heading into the fourth quarter, Golden State would still hold onto a 47-point lead. However, the Warriors had a little bit of gas left in the tank and would take the final quarter by 15 points. The final score would be 153-91 in favor of the Warriors.