Huge underdog wins in the NBA are the best. Here, Tips NBA keeps a running list of the biggest against-the-spread upsets in the league by year. The list goes back to the 1995-96 season, as far as the database crawls. Scroll down to see the results:
2017-18 (December 20)
Los Angles Lakers 122 at Houston Rockets 116
Line: Lakers +14
James Harden dropped 51 points, but it was not enough to overcome a big night from Kyle Kuzma and the upstart Lakers. The L.A. rookie set career-highs with 38 points and seven 3-pointers to lead the way in snapping Houston’s 14-game win streak.
2016-17 (May 21)
Boston Celtics 111 at Cleveland Cavaliers 108
Line: Cavaliers +16.5
This Game 3 matchup of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals witnessed LeBron James slump for 11 points, 6 rebounds, and six assists on 4-of-13 shooting.
2015-16 (March 6)
Los Angeles Lakers 112 at Golden State Warriors 95
Line: Lakers +17
The Lakers entered with a futile 12-51 SU record, while the Warriors sported a 55-5 SU mark. Golden State, which was in its revolutionary 3-point metamorphosis, struggled from deep, hitting just 4-of-30 shots from behind the arc.
2014-15 (April 13)
New York Knicks 112 at Atlanta Hawks 108
Line: Knicks +14
Atlanta’s final home game of the 2014-15 regular season was a bust, as the Knicks caught fire from the field hitting 56 percent of their shots. Langston Galloway finished with a game-high 26 points for New York.
2013-14 (February 26)
Cleveland Cavaliers 114 at OKC Thunder 104
Line: Cavaliers +14.5
Superstar Kyrie Irving dropped 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Cavaliers past OKC in a push for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. It was Cleveland’s seventh win in 10 games, moving within four of the No. 8 seed. It never inched any closer the rest of the year.
2012-13 (February 27)
Phoenix Suns 105 at San Antonio Spurs 101
Line: Suns +15.5
The Suns’ Wesley Johnson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Phoenix subsequently held the Spurs to 0-for-10 shooting in extra time to pull off the biggest stunner of the 2012-13 regular season.
2011-12 (February 14)
Washington Wizards 124 at Portland Trail Blazers 109
Line: Wizards +15
The Trail Blazers’ All-Star Center LaMarcus Aldridge went down with an ankle injury two minutes into the game. The Wizards shot .600 from the field, including .529 (9-for-17) from behind the arc. The 124 points yielded by Portland was the most all season for the franchise.
2010-11 (March 20)
Toronto Raptors 95 at OKC Thunder 93
Line: Raptors +14.5
The Raptors snapped a 14-game road losing streak, as the Thunders’ Kevin Durant missed a baseline shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime.
2009-10 (November 7)
Sacramento Kings 104 at Utah Jazz 99
Line: Kings +15
Tyreke Evans scored a career-high 32 points, and the Kings’ zone defense flustered the Jazz late in the contest for the win. Sacramento sunk 57.9 percent from the 3-point area as well.
2008-09 (April 11)
Golden State Warriors 118 at Utah Jazz 108
Line: Warriors +16
The Warriors, out of the playoff hunt and marred by injuries, tipped off with just seven players available. C.J. Watson led a loose, carefree attack with a career-high 38 points. “They had us under control all night,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said after the shock defeat. “They’re a team that takes a lot of outside shots. But we tried to match and we didn’t make them and kind of got into a little panic situation.”
2007-08 (March 26)
Charlotte Bobcats 108 at Los Angeles Lakers 95
Line: Bobcats +14
A frustrated Kobe Bryant drew two technical fouls in a span of 29 seconds and ejected with 3:40 left to play, spurning any chance at a comeback. Charlotte, just 6-28 SU on the road entering, earned its fourth win in five games against L.A.
2006-07 (March 17)
Boston Celtics 91 at San Antonio Spurs 85
Line: Celtics +13
The Spurs led by as much as 22 points in the first half before a determined Paul Pierce (21 points) and Kevin Garnett (22 points) mounted a comeback charge. Boston scored a season-low 11 points in the first quarter before rallying for a 12-point edge in the second half.
2005-06 (December 13)
Atlanta Hawks 100 at Cleveland Cavaliers 94
Line: Hawks +12.5
The Hawks entered Cleveland 3-16 SU overall and 1-10 SU on the road to begin the season. The victory followed on the heels of a 94-84 home win over the then-defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
2004-05 (December 10)
Atlanta Hawks 88 at Detroit Pistons 72
Line: Hawks +15
This street fight witnessed a total of 66 points in the second half, as the Pistons were down two key big men in the contest: Rasheed Wallace (hamstring) and Antonio McDyess (calf). “I’ve been here for two years, and I haven’t seen anything worse than that,” remarked Detroit’s Chauncey Billups following the shock defeat.
2003-04 (March 17)
Atlanta Hawks 111 at Dallas Mavericks 110
Line: Hawks +15.5
The Hawks entered with 21 wins all season, as the Mavericks were embroiled in a tense Western Conference playoff race. “They aren’t playing for anything anymore,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki lamented after the contest. “They just go out there and jack it up and have fun. It’s tough to play those teams.” Atlanta owned a 25-point lead at the half.
2002-03 (November 2)
Denver Nuggets 96 at Portland Trail Blazers 79
Line: Nuggets +15.5
The Trail Blazers were without Juwaun Howrd (flu) and made just 14 of 23 free throws, putting them 42-for-71 (59 percent) from the charity stripe up to that point of the season.
2001-02 (January 22)
Denver Nuggets 107 at Los Angeles Lakers 91
Line: Nuggets +15.5
Denver erased a 14-game away skid, despite Shaquille O’Neal dropping 40 points for the Lakers. The difference-maker proved 3-point shooting. The Nuggets drained 58.8 percent from the area, as opposed to 13.6 for the L.A.
2000-01 (March 6)
Vancouver Grizzlies 105 at Portland Trail Blazers 97
Line: Grizzlies +14.5
Vancouver averaged 44 percent shooting per game, but drained 56 percent to spoil a night in which the Trail Blazers put on a heartwarming halftime celebration retiring great Clyde Drexler’s jersey.
1999-00 (November 17)
Los Angeles Clippers 89 at Minnesota Timberwolves 85
Line: Clippers +14
The Timberwolves lost their composure, gaining 27 personal fouls to 16 for the Clippers, while also executing just 13-of-20 from the free throw line.
1998-99 (April 11)
Los Angeles Clippers 89 at Portland Trail Blazers 83
Line: Clippers +14
The second of back-to-back matchups on consecutive nights, in which the Clippers tallied 130 points through the first seven quarters, witnessed L.A. explode for 29 in the fourth quarter en route to the win.
1997-98 (March 17)
Denver Nuggets 90 at Washington Wizards 89
Line: Nuggets +17
The Nuggets entered with a lowly 8-59 SU record, and withstood a 26-point, 10-rebound effort from Washington’s Chris Webber to pull off the stunner. Webber missed a go-ahead jumper at the buzzer.
1996-97 (February 23 & April 19)
Dallas Mavericks 88 at Phoenix Suns 86
Line: Mavericks +14
Phoenix turned ice cold in the fourth quarter, putting up just 11 points.
Vancouver Grizzlies 121 at Phoenix Suns 107
Line: Grizzlies +14
The Grizzlies compiled a 65.5-percent effective field goal rate in the contest, led by 39 points from C Bryant Reeves. “Big Country” averaged 12.5 in six NBA seasons.
1995-96 (November 3 & April 5)
Vancouver Grizzlies 92 at Portland Trail Blazers 80
Line: Grizzlies +15
The Trail Blazers shot 35.8 percent from the floor in this shock season opener.
Minnesota Timberwolves 103 at Utah Jazz 99
Line: Timberwolves +15
The Timberwolves outscored the Jazz 61-46 in the first half, building an insurmountable lead.