Basketball is a funny sport, and sometimes you just can’t predict what might happen over the course of a given contest. Last week, we explored 15 things that have never happened in a Major League Baseball game. Now, with the help of the Basketball-Reference play index, here are nine things that have never happened in an NBA game:
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Scored 50 points without attempting a free throw
Getting to the line is a boon to any individual scoring effort, and between the regular season and playoffs, each of the past 18 50-point performances have included at least 11 free throw attempts by the scorer in question. With that in mind, it stands to reason that players typically don’t put up massive scoring efforts without drawing a few shooting fouls, and since the start of the 1963 season, no NBA player has scored 50 points in a game without attempting at least one free throw.
The two closest calls came from big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon, who had 48-point games in 1973 and 1997, respectively, without taking a foul shot. And just last season, Stephen Curry dropped 51 on the Orlando Magic with just one free throw attempt on the night. But we’re still waiting to see someone hit 50 without the aid of at least one truly uncontested shot.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDick Raphael
Scored more than 15 points without making a field goal
In much the same way that an eye-popping scoring night rarely happens without the benefit of a few free throws, even a modest performance can be tough without making any shots. In December 1996, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Darrick Martin managed to contribute 15 points despite going 0-for-8 from the floor in a win over the Sacramento Kings, but no NBA player has ever scored more without making at least one field goal in a game.
A scoreless quarter
Scoreless overtimes notwithstanding, an NBA team has never gone an entire quarter without scoring a point. In April 1997, the Dallas Mavericks set a new league mark for fewest points in a quarter, with two third-quarter points in an 87-80 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. In February 2004, the Golden State Warriors matched it in the fourth quarter of an overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. Needless to say, a quarter that inept is often a death knell for a team, however three teams have gone on to win a game after scoring five points in a quarter, a feat most recently accomplished by the Raptors in 2012.
Father and son playing together
In 2015, we theorized that LeBron James and his oldest son could feasibly end up with overlapping NBA careers, but to date, the league has never featured a father-son duo, either as teammates or opponents. Such a situation would require a player to have an NBA-bound child born before or relatively early in his own long career, but it’s certainly not out of the question.
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0-for-12 at the foul line
The fact is, some NBA players, for all their skill, just can’t get it together at the line, and over the years there have been countless groan-worthy performances at the charity stripe. But no player has ever attempted 12 or more free throws in a game without making a single one.
The great Shaquille O’Neal — for whom the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy is named — once went 0-for-11 or the Lakers in a 2000 loss to the Seattle Supersonics (remember them?) but thankfully, no one has ever fared worse.
0-for-12 from 3-point range
A tougher shot than the free throw, the 3-pointer can be confounding when a player’s stroke is off, but just like the free throw, the record for most attempts without making one sits at 11, a mark set by four players since the 3-point line was introduced in 1979, including Stephen Curry this year. Considering the prevalence of the 3-point shot, it seems like an 0-for-12 night (or worse) will come eventually — James Jones went 1-for-12 for the Cavs on the final day of the regular season — but so far it hasn’t happened.
100 points in the second half
In November 1990, the Phoenix Suns scored 107 points in the first half of a 173-143 win over the Denver Nuggets, but no team has ever topped the century mark in the second half of a game. The Atlanta Hawks came closest, scoring 54 points in the third quarter and 43 points in the fourth during a 1970 victory over the San Diego Rockets, but in the past 20 years, no team has even cracked 85 points in a second half.
Fewer than 20 field goals in a win
It’s tough to win when you’re not making shots, but over time, teams have found a way to pull out victories even on poor shooting nights. That said, no team since 1963 has won a game without making at least 20 field goals, a dubious “record” set by the 1999 Hawks, who went 20-of-64 from the floor in a 76-73 win over the New York Knicks. Teams have shot worse, of course — I was there in 2012, when the Magic set the NBA record for fewest field goals in a game with 16 against the Boston Celtics — but as one might expect, those efforts don’t usually end in celebration.
A 60-point quarter
Since 1954, no NBA team has ever scored 60 points in a single quarter of a game, but even when someone eventually does, it won’t necessarily guarantee a win. After all, in October 1972 the Buffalo Braves trailed the Boston Celtics 103-60 after three quarters, then erupted for an NBA record 58 points in the fourth quarter of that contest. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, as the Celtics held on for a 126-118 victory — a demoralizing loss if there ever was one.