5 Greatest Single-Game Comebacks in NBA History

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings
Malone and Stockton led the Jazz to the biggest comeback in NBA history

As basketball fans, we all love watching a team come back from a double-digit deficit and make a tight game out of an almost certain blowout.

This is why, on plenty of occasions, teams managed to rally back from big deficits during late minutes of games and win against all odds.

That is what basketball is all about; it's never over until it's over. Starting strong and getting an early lead will never guarantee a win. You always have to play the full 48, and sometimes, if needed, even more.

Let's look at the teams that managed to do the impossible and unveil the 5 largest regular season comebacks in NBA history.

#5 Dallas Mavericks 107-100 Minnesota Timberwolves: 29 points, 2008

Jason Terry exploded on the Timberwolves in an amazing comeback

After two straight first-round exits in the playoffs, following their finals loss to Miami back in 2006, Dallas Mavericks wanted to return to center stage.

On December 30, they faced Minnesota, who were still recovering from the departure of former franchise player, Kevin Garnett.

The Timberwolves, who won only six of the first 30 games of that season, led by 29 points, two minutes in the third quarter, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

However, the Mavericks managed to pull themselves together in front of their home crowd.

Led by that season's Sixth Man of the Year, Jason Terry, Dallas erased Minnesota's lead with more than five minutes left. The Jet scored 24 of his 29 points during this run, more than all of his opponents combined.

The Mavericks took the lead the next possession and never gave it back, holding the Wolves to only two points in the final two and a half minutes and finishing the game winning by seven points.

#4 Milwaukee Bucks 117-115 Atlanta Hawks: 29 points, 1977

Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Bullets
Junior Bridgeman led the Bucks to the biggest fourth quarter comeback in NBA history

In the post "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar" era in Milwaukee, the Bucks had some rocky seasons. They were in and out of the playoffs and had their first head coach change in franchise history.

Atlanta suffered even more inconsistency in the 70s, changing coaches every few seasons and going four years without a playoff run.

When the two met on November 25, they had similar records and were supposed to provide fans at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta a close matchup.

The Hawks had a strong third quarter run, outscoring the Bucks 40-21. Atlanta was already up 29 points in the fourth quarter and was cruising for a win.

But Milwaukee managed to do the impossible and made the giant deficit disappear in less than 12 minutes, led by small forward Junior Bridgeman.

This is, to this day, the biggest fourth-quarter comeback by any team in NBA history. With a 41-11 score, it is also the fourth highest final quarter point differential.

#3 Los Angeles Lakers 105-103 Dallas Mavericks: 30 points, 2002

Kobe Bryant shoots the game winner
Kobe Bryant shoots the game-winner after coming back from 30

The reigning "three-peat" champions, Los Angeles Lakers, had a tough start to the 2002-03 season, with Shaq battling an injured toe. They came to this encounter with a 7-13 record.

The Mavericks actually had a terrific start, losing only one of their first 18 games of the season. Following All-Star debuts for starters Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki the previous season, Dallas had legitimate hopes to get a first finals appearance.

The Mavericks took the lead early in the first quarter and saw it growing to 30 after a layup by Adrian Griffin at the beginning of the third.

The Lakers managed to cut it to 27 before the fourth quarter, and that is when Kobe Bryant took control.

The Black Mamba recorded a perfect quarter, making all of his shots, from the field and from the line, including the game-winning shot with 8.4 seconds left. With his 21 points, Kobe outscored all Dallas players combined in that quarter.

The Lakers led for a total of 22.4 seconds the entire game, but it was enough to get them the victory.

#2 Sacramento Kings 102-98 Chicago Bulls: 35 points, 2009

Sacramento Kings v Chicago Bulls
Ime Udoka came off the bench to be the unexpected hero of the game

The 2009-10 Bulls came off Derrick Rose's great rookie season and an honorable first-round exit against eventual finalists, Boston Celtics, but started this one with a number of double-digit losses.

Sacramento missed the playoffs in the previous four seasons, drawing no similarities to the great team from the beginning of the century. Their start to the season was mediocre, with a 12-14 record prior to this matchup.

Chicago took the early lead and increased it all the way to 35 at the beginning of the third quarter. However, thanks to a 52-17 run by the Kings, the score was all tied with less than two minutes to go.

The next possession, Sacramento's Jon Brockman forced a turnover on Rose, followed by a shooting foul on rookie Tyreke Evans, who made the free throws and gave the Kings the lead.

Sacramento's surprise hero was 32-year-old Ime Udoka, who scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, more than the entire Bulls team. Udoka retired less than three years later and became an assistant coach on the San Antonio Spurs.

#1 Utah Jazz 107-103 Denver Nuggets: 36 points, 1996

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings
The Utah Jazz did what seemed to be impossible

The All-Star duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton lost three conference finals in the 90s and they would not accept anything but a finals appearance this time.

The Nuggets were in a very different position. They parted ways with starters Dikembe Mutombo and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in the offseason and hired Coach Dick Motta the day before this game.

Therefore, it was a giant surprise when Denver took a 70-34 lead with 20 seconds left in the first half at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

But the recent turmoil on the coaching staff had its toll on the Nuggets and came to Utah Jazz's help.

Karl Malone, who led all scorers with 31, scored 19 of his points during the Jazz's run to tie the game by the 4:41 mark in the fourth quarter, forcing a tight game from this point onwards

A bad pass and a turnover from Denver's Mark Jackson, down two points with 29 seconds to go, led the way to a Utah win and the biggest comeback, to this day, in NBA history.

Which is your favorite comeback win in the NBA? Tell us in the comments below!

Quick Links

Edited by Raunak J