Match Report

Lowest Scoring NBA Game

The NBA is known for having loads of points scored in a game, but what was the lowest scoring NBA game ever?

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-11-23

Umaima Saeed

Lowest Scoring NBA Game


The NBA, a league known for its high-flying dunks, buzzer-beating shots, and breathtaking displays of athleticism, has had its fair share of record-breaking moments. With average NBA scores continuing to creep up yearly, the eternal question remains: What was the Lowest Scoring NBA Game in History? 

Believe it or not, that game was between the Lakers and Pistons, and no, not the ones you’re thinking of. 

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1950-Pistons vs Lakers

In a league where scoring prowess often takes the spotlight, the matchup between the Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers on November 22, 1950, remains an anomaly etched in the annals of basketball history. The final score of this game was a jaw-dropping 19-18, an unimaginable result by today's standards of high-scoring basketball.

The game unfolded in an era vastly different from the fast-paced, high-scoring contests seen in modern NBA games. In the early 1950s, the league was still finding its footing, and offensive strategies were a far cry from the three-point-centric, fast-paced gameplay we witness today.
Not to mention that with all the racism still going on in America, and that the first black player, Earl Lloyd, had only been in the league a few weeks. 

Both teams struggled immensely on the offensive end throughout the game, encountering stifling defences that made every basket a hard-earned achievement. The pace was deliberate, with possessions lasting significantly longer than what contemporary fans are accustomed to witnessing.

The game was a defensive showcase, with both squads locking horns in a battle of wills. The stifling defence employed by both the Pistons and Lakers limited open scoring opportunities, forcing players to take low-percentage shots and resulting in a low-scoring affair that defied expectations.

The Pistons were led by John Oldham, who was only able to muster 5 points in the game, while the Lakers Vern Mikkelsen was able to put up 6, in a game that only saw 4 points in the fourth quarter. 

To put the game's scoring output into perspective, consider that in today's NBA, it's not uncommon for teams to score 19 or more points in a single quarter, let alone an entire game, with average scores today at 114.7 points per game.  This historic match-up serves as a reminder of the league's evolution, highlighting the stark contrast between basketball's past and present.

With the game unfolding at a snail's pace, each basket became a pivotal moment, heightening the tension for players and spectators alike. While the game might be remembered for its lack of offensive fireworks, its significance lies in showcasing the evolution of basketball strategy and gameplay. It serves as a reminder of the sport's humble beginnings and how far it has progressed in terms of offensive proficiency and player athleticism. Also again, loads of white guys. 

Despite the low score, this game has cemented its place in NBA history as a testament to the grind and defensive prowess of teams from an era when the game was vastly different from what it is today. It stands as a testament to the sport's evolution and the constant strive for improvement, both tactically and athletically.

So in terms of the lowest-scoring NBA game of all time, it can’t get more of a white-out than the November 22, 1950 game between the Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers, where only 19 points was scored.  Not the most exciting NBA game ever, but a solid record to remember regardless. 

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.