The lowest-scoring NBA game ever occurred in 1950 when the Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers faced each other in a startlingly low-scoring affair. On January 22, 1950, the Pistons won with a score of 19-18. It was only the 13th game of their inaugural season, but it remains the lowest-scoring game ever played in NBA history.
The low-scoring nature of this match is eye-opening considering the high number of points usually seen in modern games. Thanks to improvements in training techniques and the overall skill level of players, today’s teams routinely score more than 100 points per game. However, back then scoring was considered far more difficult since many elements made it almost impossible for players to score easily: strict defensive rules, fewer fouls called on defenders and an incredibly low overall shooting percentage all contributed to keep scores at very low levels.
Moreover, the lack of technology such as advanced analytics programs used by coaches today also played a major role in the lower scores achieved during that time. Without access to data and analysis tools teams couldn’t adequately prepare for games nor tailor individual tactics to maximize offensive efficiency. All these factors made it tougher for teams to assemble an efficient offense; as a result, even though there were less shots taken during that era — only 46 field goals were attempted during that memorably dull encounter between the Pistons and Lakers — they still generated much lower scores than today’s teams would manage even if they took similar amounts of shots from similar positions on the court.
Clearly, not much has changed since 1950 when it comes to shooting percentages or field goal attempts per game: what has changed significantly is how players handle themselves both offensively and defensively thanks to advances in coaching strategies and general training standards. The Piston versus Lakers match shows us just how far we have come since then and why numbers alone don’t tell us too much about which team was better as far as offensive execution goes: what matters is being able to turn those opportunities into points efficiently no matter how many attempts you need.