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NBA

What is the record amount of overtimes in NBA history?

As we near the end of the NBA season, we thought you could use a reminder of the overtime rules, which got us thinking...what was the most OTs in a game?

Jennifer Bubel
Update:
As we near the end of the NBA season, we thought you could use a reminder of the overtime rules, which got us thinking...what was the most OTs in a game?

NBA basketball games are the shortest of all professional sports, with the clock running at just 48 minutes total. Of course, there are timeouts and fouls and breaks that make it realistically last quite a bit longer, but in general, it’s one of the faster sports out there. Even if the game goes into overtime, they typically end quickly after. But there was one game that set a record time of 78 minutes and six overtimes.

What are the overtime rules in the NBA?

Overtime in the NBA isn’t really a common occurrence, so if you need a refresher on how it works we don’t blame you. It’s quite simple: If the game is tied at the end, it will go into overtime. Between the end of regulation and the start of overtime, there will be 130 seconds. To start the period after the opening jump, the NBA uses a quarter-possession rule. There are two timeouts per team per overtime period. Overtime periods last five minutes. Whoever is in the lead at the end of those five minutes wins the game. However, if the game is still tied at the end of overtime, it will go into a second overtime, and that will go on until someone wins.

In the 2022 playoffs there has only been one overtime so far, when the Philadelphia 76ers played the Toronto Raptors in Game 3. That one nearly had to go into a second overtime, but 76ers Joel Embiid hit a three from deep with 2.6 seconds left to give the Sixers the 104-101 win.

What are the most overtimes in NBA history?

The longest game in NBA history was in 1951 when the Indianapolis Olympians played the Rochester Royals. The game lasted a record 78 minutes and a record six overtimes. During the six overtimes, there were only 18 points scored. In the first, it was 2-2; in the second, 0-0; in the third, 2-2; in the fourth, 0-0; in the fifth, 4-4; and then finally in the sixth, 2-0. For such a long game, it ended with a surprisingly low score, 75-73 in the Olympians’ favor. The NBA eventually introduced the 24-second clock (otherwise known as the shot clock), which led to higher scores.

A record six overtimes made this game the longest in NBA history.
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A record six overtimes made this game the longest in NBA history.

Since the introduction of the shot clock, the longest game was in 1989 between the Minneapolis Bucks and Seattle Supersonics. It went into five overtimes for a total of 73 minutes. The Bucks eventually got the win by one point, 155-154, a significantly higher score than the longest game in 1951. During the 1989 game, several records were broken. Supersonics’ Dale Ellis set two records: he scored a record-high 53 points, 20 of which came during the five overtimes, and he played the most minutes of any player in an NBA game at 69 total minutes (which still stands today).

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