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5 Longest Games in NBA History by Time

Here we look at the top 5 longest games in NBA history by time. Each extra term lengthens the game by 5 minutes. The NBA basketball game is the shortest of all the major sports, with a game clock that theoretically never stops.

Last updated: 21.01.2022
Longest Games in NBA History by Time

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The NBA basketball game is the shortest of all the major sports, with a game clock that theoretically never stops, clocking in at just 48 minutes. Of course, it comes to a halt for fouls, timeouts, commercials, and quarter breaks, and if the score is still tied at the end of the game, overtime can be played. By going into six overtime periods, the longest basketball game ever set the record for the longest basketball game ever. Each extra term lengthens the game by 5 minutes. With that in mind, let's look at the NBA's five longest games.

1. Indianapolis Olympians vs Rochester Royals (1951)—6 Overtimes


The Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals played the longest game in NBA history on January 6, 1951. The longest basketball game in history ended with a relatively low score of 75-73 in favor of the Olympians after 78 minutes of play and a record six overtimes. This was a low-scoring season, and it was one of the last before the league emphasized team scoring four seasons later, with the introduction of the 24-second clock. The losing Royals, ironically, finished second in the Western Division. They won the NBA Finals by defeating the New York Knickerbockers in the postseason. The Olympians, the eventual winners of the NBA's longest game, finished fourth in the Western Division.

2. Syracuse Nationals vs Anderson Packers (1949)—5 Overtimes

The Syracuse Nationals decided this game in five overtimes. They won 125-123 after outscoring the Anderson Packers 18-16 in the fifth overtime period. Johnny Macknowski's 21 points led the Nationals, while Frankie Brian's 18 points led the Packers. This was the first five-overtime game ever recorded in the league, and it's the first entry on our list. The Nationals came into the game with a six-game-winning run under their belt and a record of 10-1 overall.

3. Milwaukee Bucks vs Seattle Supersonics (1989)—5 Overtimes

In the 35 years since the establishment of the 24-second clock in 1955, it was the longest game in NBA history. The game finished in a one-point victory for the Bucks, 155-154, at the end of the fifth extra period. Only three games in NBA history have gone to at least five overtimes, the most recent of which is this one. The score was 103-103 at the end of regulation, but overtime lasted 73 minutes because neither team could make the winning shot. Milwaukee finally put an end to the never-ending marathon in the fifth and final extra time. Ricky Pierce, who came off the bench to score 36 points, led the squad.

4. Atlanta Hawks vs New York Knicks (2017)—4 Overtimes

In Atlanta, the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks played a historic NBA game that lasted three hours and forty minutes. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 142-139 in overtime. Atlanta scored 12 points in the fourth overtime period while allowing only nine points to New York. In a four-overtime contest that lasted nearly four hours, Paul Millsap scored the game-winning basket. Millsap scored a season-high 37 points, including the game-winning layup with 27 seconds left in the fourth overtime, as the Atlanta Hawks beat Carmelo Anthony's 45-point performance.

5. Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks (2019)—4 Overtimes

The Chicago Bulls scored a season-high 168 points to defeat the Atlanta Hawks, 168-161. The game took three hours and 35 minutes to complete. Late in the fourth overtime, Lauri Markkanen sank three free throws to give Chicago the lead for good, and the Bulls overcame Trae Young's career-high 49 points to defeat the Hawks 168-161 in the NBA third-highest-scoring game. Zach LaVine, a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls, scored 47 points in 55 minutes of action. It was impressive given that the two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion had previously ruptured his ACL.

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