These are the biggest comebacks in NBA history

The Atlanta Hawks erased a 30-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics on Monday.

NBC Universal, Inc.

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. 

Such was the case on Monday when the Atlanta Hawks made franchise history at home versus the Boston Celtics.

Atlanta trailed by 30 points at one point in the second quarter, then rallied all the way back for a stunning 120-118 win over the league's best team record wise. It marked the Hawks' largest comeback in franchise history (since it started being tracked in 1997-98) as well as the biggest comeback of the season by any team.

The comeback was good enough to enter a tough-to-break category in the record books.

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 nine 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 in 2022 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)

T-7. Atlanta Hawks: 30 points vs. Boston Celtics (2024)

Contact Us