The lowest scoring NBA game in league history is the game played on November 22, 1950 between the Minneapolis Lakers (18 points) and Fort Wayne Pistons (19 points) – the two combined to score just 37 points. The Fort Wayne Pistons won the game by just one point defeating the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18.
The last lowest scoring game last year was played on November 3rd, 2011 between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics won the game by 13 points beating the Miami Heat 92-79. The two combined for 171 points. It was the lowest score in a game for the 2021-22 NBA season.
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Low scoring 40s and 50s NBA seasons
NBA games were not very high scoring in the 40s and the 50s.
Some of the teams scored so low, that 47 teams did not manage to score more that 50 points in a game during that year.
However, teams did score well into the 70s and maybe even the 80s. The first NBA team to a 100 points in a game was the St. Louis Bombers. The Bombers scored 103 points in a game against the Chicago Stags back when the NBA was still the BAA. The Bombers won that game 103-90.
The lowest scoring NBA team that year was the Detroit Falcons who scored just 33 points in a loss against the Washington Capitals.
The highest scoring NBA teams that year were the Washington Capitols (2 games with a 100+ points), Chicago Stags (3 games with a 100+ points), the Philadelphia Warriors (1 game with a 100+ points) and the St. Louis Bombers.
The lowest score in an NBA game ever
However, on November 22nd 1950, the NBA saw it’s lowest scoring game ever.
The Fort Wayne Pistons were the fourth best team in the NBA the previous year with a record of 40-28. The Minneapolis Lakers were the best team in the NBA the previous year with a record of 51-17.
Now remember this was pre-24 second shot clock. So teams could hold on to the ball for longer periods of time.
The Lakers team featured George Mikan – a legendary player to just four days prior to this game, managed to score a season high 47 points in an 86-77 win against the Rochester Royals.
This day was different.
Both – Fort Wayne and the Minneapolis Lakers struggled to score the basketball. Lakers’ George Mikan was the highest scorer in the game – he scored 15 points.
The lowest scoring game in the NBA’s first season 1946-47
The NBA started in 1946.
The first game in league history, played in New York was won by the New York Knicks in a 68-66 win over the Toronto Huskies. The New York Knicks would go on to score 90+ points twice that season.
There was some exciting basketball played. But there was some of the lowest scoring games.
On November 2, 1946 the league saw it’s first low score game in league history between the Detroit Falcons and the Washington Capitols.
The Detroit Falcons managed just 33 points against the Washington Capitols who scored 50 points. The total scored was just 83.
The Washington Capitols were led by Bob Feerick and Fred Scolari who scored 14 each.
Pre-shot clock vs Post-shot clock
In fact, it was this game that prompted strong conversations in favor of the 24-second basketball shot clock.
It was led to deep conversations and eventually the 24 second shot clock was introduced. The shot clock had arrived by 1954.
Most of the NBA’s lowest scoring games took place before the shot clock was introduced.
As soon as the shot clock was introduced, however, scores began to climb.
In the 1953-54 season – the season before the shot clock was introduced – NBA teams scored more than 100 points just 24 times.
In 1954-55 – the first season of the basketball shot clock – the league saw that number double in December. That year, NBA clubs scored 100+ a whopping 173 times – a 700% jump from the previous year!
The lowest scoring NBA game in the shot clock era
However, the 1954-55 NBA season also featured the lowest score in a game in the shot clock era.
On February 27th, 1955, the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Hawks combined for a low score game with just 119 total points scored in the game.
The Boston Celtics were led by two Bob’s – Cousy and Brannum – totaling 28 – 14 points respectively, while the Chuck Share and Bob Petit of the Milwaukee Hawks combined for 31 points.
Interestingly enough, the Boston Celtics were also part of the game with the highest total that year. The game, against the Minneapolis Lakers, was among the best games that year. The Boston Celtics won that game 128-106 – both combining for 234 points.
The lowest scoring NBA game in the 2021-22
2021-22 was one of the best NBA seasons in the history of the league. So high were the scores that of 1,230 regular season games, only 75 low scoring games saw both teams failing to reach double digits.
While records were being broken two low scoring games in particular saw both teams fail to find the bottom of the net at a high level – both with totals of just 171 points respectively.
On October 27th, 2021, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 92-79.
Similarly, On November 3rd, 2021, the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 92-79.
Both times combining for just 171 points – the fewest points that season.
Interestingly enough, the Los Angeles Clippers also had one of the highest scoring games in the 2022 NBA season – scoring 153 points in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks.
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