Basketball is a game of momentum.
Often, the ebb-and-flow throughout a game balances out somewhat evenly, making most games back-and-forth affairs. However, sometimes things shift so hard in one team’s favor early on that you can’t help but think the game is a lost cause. But occasionally, those giant early (or even second half) leads develop into monumental comebacks that turn what was going to be a forgettable game into one you’ll remember forever.
This unpredictable-to-the-very-end element is one of the reasons betting on basketball is so popular. Few things in sports are more exciting than seeing a wager/team you wrote off as a loss come back to complete a backdoor cover (or straight-up moneyline win). If you have ever been put in this situation and want to make sure next time you don’t miss out check out this sports betting page for more information.
Below are five instances of the best basketball comebacks of all-time that undoubtedly had basketball bettors on an emotional rollercoaster.
February 16, 1994: Kentucky Wildcats vs. LSU Tigers
The largest comeback in college basketball history was authored by perhaps the most prestigious program in the game.
On a winter night in 1994, the mediocre 11-10 LSU Tigers hosted a University of Kentucky squad looking to make a run to the Final Four (or better) for the second straight year.
However, early on it looked like Rick Pitino’s 18-5 Cats were going to have a major hiccup in the middle of their stellar season.
Down by 31 in the final 15:34 of the game, Kentucky would wake up to score 24 of the game’s next 28 points.
After clawing their way back to be in the game for the first time since tip off, #11 Kentucky finally pulled ahead on a Walter McCarty three-pointer from the corner with 19-seconds left, a lead UK would hold onto for the win and a record that still stands today.
1995 Reggie Miller/Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks were leading the Indiana Pacers 105-99 with 18.7 seconds left in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Even if you were the biggest bettor in Madison Square Garden that day you probably weren’t putting any action down on the Pacers coming back and winning. But then you Reggie Miller reminded us (and the world) that Reggie Miller he was on the floor.
Off the in-bound, Miller would catch, turn, and hit a three to cut the Knick lead to three with 16.4 left on the clock. Applying the press, Miller would then steal the inbound pass, retreat to the three line and knock down another to improbably tie the game with 13.2 seconds left. At the other end, New York’s John Starks would miss both free throws, then foul Miller to send him to the line for two free throws that he would make to complete one of the most shocking and unforgettable comebacks in NBA history.
November 27, 1996: Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets
On paper, the Utah Jazz looked to be heavy favorites in an early-season Midwest division matchup against the 5-9 Denver Nuggets. However, Murphy’s law was in effect for the Jazz, as everything that could go wrong for the 10-2 Jazz did, as they surrendered 70 points in the first half and found themselves down 36 early in the second half.
However, the trio of Hornacek-Stockton-Malone was one of the 90s’ best for a reason, and the Jazz slowly chipped away at the massive lead. Outscoring Denver 36-15 in the third and 35-18 in the fourth, Malone and Hornacek would combine for 60 total points as part of the NBA’s largest comeback in history.
December 21, 2009: Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls
The Association’s second-largest comeback came back when two of the game’s most-oft injured young stars were in their first and second seasons in the league. Derrick Rose’s Bulls were up as many as 35 points with less than 9 minutes remaining the in third quarter against eventual Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans’ Sacramento Kings in an early 2009-10 season tilt.
Even after a 19-5 run at the end of the third made the scoreline 88-69 Bulls, few in Chicago’s United Center probably thought the win was in danger, until 15 points from Ime Udoka cut the lead to four with 2:28 to play. That’s where the young Evans would take over, scoring nine points (including a three at the buzzer) to see the Kings win 102-98 and the Chicago fans boo their team off the court.
March 13, 2012: Iona Gaels vs. BYU Cougars
Heading into the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament as the highest-scoring team in the country, Iona College looked poised to make school history by winning their first ever NCAA Tournament Game. After dropping 55 points in the first half against a just-average BYU team, Iona would indeed to go on to make history, though not the kind they had probably hoped for.
After being up 25, Iona would then go on a 9:20 scoring drought in the second half, during which the Cougars managed to go on a run of their own, scoring 17 unanswered and making the game a one-point affair with 10 to play. With 2:26 left, BYU captured their first lead of the game, which eventually turned into a 78-72 win, signifying the largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.