These are the biggest comebacks in NBA history
These are the biggest comebacks in NBA history originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
No lead is safe in the NBA.
The league’s current pace of play, dependence on the three-point shot and lengthy unanswered runs, can quickly turn a 30-point game into a nailbiter. Teams chip away to make the game interesting, but they rarely go on to complete the comeback.
Entering Sunday, NBA teams this season were a combined 0-138 when trailing by 27 or more points. That losing streak came to an end thanks to LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers.
They overcame a 27-point deficit against the Dallas Mavericks for a 111-108 win in what was the biggest comeback in the NBA this season and the Lakers’ largest rally in 21 years.
Los Angeles missed its first 14 three-point attempts of the game as they were outscored 30-0 from deep midway through the second quarter. That included a three by Christian Wood that increased the Dallas lead to 48-21 with 7:06 left in the half. Out of a Lakers timeout, Troy Brown Jr. hit the team’s first three of the game, sparking the comeback as the Lakers pulled within 14 at the end of the second quarter.
A 12-0 run in the third cut the deficit to five, helping Los Angeles make it a one-possession game entering the fourth. James opened the quarter with a game-tying three and, on the Lakers’ next possession, converted a layup to give Los Angeles an 83-81 lead. The final quarter featured 13 lead changes, the last of which was a putback dunk by Davis that put the Lakers up for good.
As large as the Lakers’ rally was, it didn’t quite crack the league’s top 10 comebacks of all-time.
Here’s a look at all of the 30-plus point comeback wins in NBA history.
What are the biggest comebacks in NBA regular-season history?
Only eight times in NBA history has a team rallied from a 30-plus point deficit to win a game.
The Utah Jazz’s 36-point turnaround against the Nuggets in November 1996 has never been matched nor bested. Utah trailed the Nuggets 70-34 at home in the final minute of the first half. But, led by Karl Malone and Jeff Hornacek, the Jazz outscored the Nuggets 71-33 in the second half for a 107-103 win.
The Los Angeles Clippers nearly topped that record last season when they orchestrated a 35-point comeback win against the Washington Wizards, erasing what was a 66-31 late second-half deficit. That comeback, which included a late go-ahead four-point play by Luke Kennard, tied for the second-biggest rally for a victory in NBA history with the Sacramento Kings.
In a December 2009 game against the Bulls in Chicago, Sacramento overcame a 35-point second-half deficit to win 102-98. The Kings trailed 79-44 a few minutes into the third quarter and were down 19 entering the fourth. But a 33-10 advantage in the final quarter helped Tyreke Evans and Co. stun the Derrick Rose-led Bulls.
There has only been one 30-plus point comeback win in NBA playoff history. The Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 31-point deficit against the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the first round in 2019, erasing what had been a 94-63 lead with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Here’s a complete look at the largest comebacks in NBA history.
1. Utah Jazz: 36 points vs. Denver Nuggets (1996)
T-2. Los Angeles Clippers: 35 points vs. Washington Wizards (2022)
T-2. Sacramento Kings: 35 points vs. Chicago Bulls (2009)
4. Boston Celtics: 32 points vs. San Antonio Spurs (2021)
5. Los Angeles Clippers: 31 points vs. Golden State Warriors (2019 postseason)
T-5. Golden State Warriors: 31 points vs. Milwaukee Bucks (1975)
7. Toronto Raptors: 30 points vs. Dallas Mavericks (2019)
T-7. Los Angeles Lakers: 30 points vs. Dallas Mavericks (2002)