Most points by a player in one half in NBA history

Most people know the most points ever scored in a NBA game is 100 by Wilt Chamberlain. But how many people know what the record is for most points scored in one half in an NBA game?

The record is over 50 points. There are just a handful of players in NBA history who have scored over 50 points in one half. To put that into perspective the NBA team I root for the New Jersey Nets has had just 3 players who ever scored 50 or more points in a whole game and not one of those players ever scored as many points in a game as the players listed below did in a half.

To score 50 points in a half a player has to score better than 2 points per minute. Of course foul shots do not take time off the clock so that is a little misleading but not too much. All the players listed here who scored 53 or more points in one half were constantly shooting the ball to do so.

Most Points in One Half in NBA History by Player

Wilt Chamberlain - 59 points in one half

In the second half of the famous March 2, 1962 game when Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points vs the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt also set the record for most points in a half with 59. After dropping 41 points in the 1st half of that game Wilt dropped 28 in the 3rd quarter and then 31 more in the 4th quarter to reach the century mark for the game and 59 for the 2nd half.

Wilt scored his last bucket in the game with :46 seconds left on the clock to give him 100 points. The fans stormed the floor and the game was delayed for 9 minutes. When play resumed Wilt could have scored more points but stayed at the center of the court because the Warriors were well ahead and he thought 100 points was just the right number.

Kobe Bryant(notes) - 55 points

When Kobe Bryant dropped in 81 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on January 22, 2006 vs the Toronto Raptors for the 2nd highest point total in a game by a player in NBA history he scored 55 of his points in the 2nd half.

After scoring 26 points in the 1st half Kobe got mad in the 2nd half as the Raptors opened up a big 71-53 lead. Kobe had 4 points in the 3rd quarter at that point and then went on to score 23 more points in the quarter and added another 28 in the 4th quarter leading the Lakers to an amazing come-from-behind 122-104 win.

So Kobe scored 27 total points in the 3rd quarter and 28 total points in the 4th quarter for 55 points.

On December 20, 2005 Kobe scored 30 points in the 3rd quarter vs the Dallas Mavericks but sat out the 4th quarter of the blowout win or he might have had another 50 point half.

David Thompson - 53 points

On the last day of the season on April 9, 1978 David Thompson of the Denver Nuggets was just fractions of a point behind George Gervin for the league's scoring title. The Nuggets faced the Detroit Pistons that day and Thompson poured in 32 points in the 1st quarter making 13 of the 14 shots he took. He poured in another 21 points shooting 7 of 9 from the field in the 2nd quarter giving him 53 points in the 1st half.

Thompson played 22 minutes in that first half. He made 20 out of 23 shots from the field and most of his points were from jump shots and not layups or dunks. He ended the game with 73 total points which briefly put him ahead of George Gervin for the scoring title but as you'll see below Gervin was not about to lose the scoring title on that night.

George Gervin - 53 points

On that same April 9, 1978 night George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs also scored 53 points in the first half vs the New Orleans Jazz. Gervin was just fractions of a point ahead of David Thompson for the scoring title to start that day and then needed to score 59 points in his game to win the title after Thompson poured in 73 points earlier in the day to take the lead.

Gervin scored 20 points in the 1st quarter and then dropped in a league best for one quarter 33 points in the 2nd quarter. So Gervin scored 53 points in the 1st half. Remarkably he missed the first 6 shots he took in the game and did not score from the field over the first 5:31 in the game. He went on to score 63 points in the game and win the scoring title by fractions of a point over Thompson.

Carmelo Anthony(notes) has since tied George Gervin's record of 33 points in one quarter but Melo only scored 45 total points in the game so he did not score over 50 points in a half.

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Updated Friday, Feb 25, 2011