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Embiid scored 70. A guide to players with most points in NBA game

Eighteen years to the date from Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance for the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 22, 2006, Joel Embiid on Monday scored 70 points, becoming the ninth player to score at least 70 points in an NBA game.

Embiid’ previous scoring high was 59 points against Utah last season, and he is the third player in the past two seasons to reach 70. Before the 2022-23 season, Devin Booker’s 70-point performance in 2017 was the only game with a player scoring 70 since David Robinson did it in 1994.

Recalling the NBA’s top individual scoring performances reminds me of one of my favorite Bryant stories. While doing a story on Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance, I asked Bryant about his interactions with Chamberlain.

‘I was like 7 or 8,’ Bryant said of his introduction to Chamberlain. ‘My father (former NBA player Joe Bryant) introduced me to him. It was in McGonigle Hall at Temple University. My father said, ‘Kobe, I want to introduce you to somebody. He’s one of the greatest players of all time.’ I just looked at him and I go, ‘Bombaata.’ He’s Bombaata in Conan the Destroyer. That’s the only thing I knew him as − Bombaata. He picks me up. It’s like the coolest thing ever. Wilt was a great sport about it.’

Here are the 14 times a players has scored at least 70 points in an NBA game:

Joel Embiid, 70 points, Jan. 22, 2024

In another MVP-caliber season for Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers star became the latest to reach 70 points. The Spurs had no answers for Embiid in Philadelphia’s 133-123 victory. Embiid connected on 24-of-41 shots from the field and 21-of-23 free throws. In a throw-back game, he attempted just two 3-pointers, making one.

Devin Booker, 70 points, March 24, 2017

The Phoenix Suns star had 70 points in a 130-120 loss to Boston – 51 of those points came in the second half, including 28 in the fourth quarter.

Wilt Chamberlain, 70 points, March 10, 1963

This was the San Francisco Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain’s final 70-point game of his career in a 163-148 loss to Syracuse. He went for 68 points four seasons later against Cincinnati where he was 30-for-40 from the field but just 8-for-22 on free throws.

Damian Lillard, 71 points, Feb. 26, 2023

Basketball has changed in so many ways, and the 3-point line is one of those game-shifting changes. In then-Portland star Lillard’s 71-point performance in a 131-114 victory against Houston, Lillard made 13 3-pointers, nine 2-pointers and 14 free throws.

Donovan Mitchell, 71 points, Jan. 2, 2023

Fantastic efficiency allowed Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell to score 71 against in a 145-134 victory against Chicago. Mitchell was 22-for-34 from the field, 7-for-15 on 3s and 20-for-25 from the free throw line.

David Robinson, 71 points, April 24, 1994

It was a 16-year gap between 70-point games in the NBA. After David Thompson’s 73 points in 1978, no one scored 70 or more until San Antonio Spurs Hall of Famer had 71 in a 112-97 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. He made 27 of his 49 attempt from the field and 18 of 25 attempts from the free throw line.

Elgin Baylor, 71 points, Nov. 15, 1960

Los Angeles Lakers great Elgin Baylor was 28-for-48 from the field and 15-for-19 from free throw line in a 123-108 victory against the Knicks. Baylor also had 25 rebounds.

Wilt Chamberlain, 72 points, Nov. 3, 1962

In the first 20 games of the 1962-63 season, Chamberlain scored at least 50 points 14 times, including 72 in a 127-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Chamberlain, Jerry West (49 points) and Elgin Baylor (30 points) were just too much.

David Thompson, 73 points, April 9, 1978

By today’s standards, David Thompson had a short career – just nine seasons, seven with Denver and two with Seattle. But from ABA season to NBA seasons, Thompson was a bucket-getter. In this game, Thompson scored 73 against Detroit in the final game of the season as Thompson tried to edge San Antonio’s George Gervin for the regular-season season scoring title. Gervin scored 63 on the same day to win the scoring title 27.21 to 27.15.

Wilt Chamberlain, 73 points, Nov. 16, 1962

The Knicks were often on the receiving end of one of Chamberlain’s dominant performances – this time he had 73 points in a 127-111 victory.

Wilt Chamberlain, 73 points, Jan. 13, 1962

Chamberlain was on a tear that season, and his 73 points in the Philadelphia Warriors’ 135-117 victory against the Chicago Packers was one of 15 games that season where he scored at least 60 points.

Wilt Chamberlain, 78 points, Dec. 8, 1961

Just a few months before Chamberlain scored 100 points, he tagged the Lakers for 78 in a 151-147 triple-overtime loss. At the moment, it was the most points scored by a player in an NBA game. He also had 43 rebounds and played all 63 minutes.

Kobe Bryant, 81 points, Jan. 22, 2006

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors – the closest anyone has come to Chamberlain’s record. Bryant played 42 of 48 minutes and had he played all 48 and attempted and made a few more shots (he was 28-for-46 from the field, 7-for-13 on 3-pointers and 18-for-20 on free throws), maybe he could’ve made a run at 100. In 2012, Bryant told USA TODAY Sports he had never watched a replay of the game. ‘There’s nothing I could have learned from that game,’ Bryant said. ‘It was just pure fluke, a freak of nature-type thing,’ and added, ‘If I did watch it, it would only (upset me) if I saw I really could have had 100.’ However, in 2013, he watched a replay and Tweeted, ‘Watching the game now, the easy shots I missed, I could of had 100 pts! #countonkobe.’

Wilt Chamberlain, 100 points, March 2, 1962

In what is considered one of more unbreakable records in sports, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a 169-147 victory against the New York Knicks. Chamberlain connected on 36-for-63 shots from the field and the notoriously average free throw shooter made 28-of-32 from the line. There is the famous photo of Chamberlain holding the hastily made ‘100’ sign but there is no known video available from the game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania. There is an audio recording from the radio broadcast.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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