How Long Is A Basketball Game? 7 Rules Explained

Whether you’re a player or a fan, it’s important to know all the rules of basketball. And the length of a basketball game is something you need to know a lot about.

How long does a game of basketball last? There is no one answer because leagues and associations have different rules. Check the rulebook for the group you play with to find out the most important information.

I’m going to look at how long games are according to the rules of the FIBA, NBA, NCAA (college), and NFHS (high school). I’ll also say a few words about the shot clock and timeouts, which are important parts of basketball.

How Long Are NBA Games?

Each of the four periods in an NBA game lasts 12 minutes. Besides that, NBA rules allow for a 5-minute overtime period.

How Long Is A Basketball Game

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has a nice chart on its website that compares the rules of the FIBA, NBA, and NCAA. Everything from the comparison about the length and length of a basketball game is in the table below:

Playing time4 x 10 minutes, 5 minutes overtime4 x 12 minutes, 5 minutes overtime2 x 20 minutes, 5 minutes overtime
Shot clock24 seconds, or 14 seconds after offensive rebound24 seconds35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women
Timeouts*2 in first half;3 in second half (but only 2 timeouts in last two minutes of the fourth period);1 per overtime;Always lasts 60 seconds;No carryovers6 regular;2 per overtime period;60 or 100 seconds + short timeout (20 seconds) per half;Second short timeout can be carried over to overtime4 regular;30 seconds + long 60 seconds;Maximum 3 regular and 1 long timeout in second half
Half time15 minutes15 minutes15 minutes
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*NBA statistics are out of date.

With that, an NBA game is 48 minutes long, plus the 15-minute break in the middle.

But when it comes to how long games actually last, NBA games and games in any other league can last much longer because the clock is stopped so often. A typical NBA game lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

How Long Is A Basketball Game

One thing to keep in mind about NBA timeouts is that FIBA’s comparison table was out of date when this post was written. According to the rules for 2019-2020, each team is entitled to:

  • Seven timeouts were paid for.
  • The fourth period can have up to four timeouts.
  • There can be up to two timeouts in overtime.

The rules say other things about timeouts, but I won’t talk about them here.

All NBA timeouts have been 75 seconds long since the 2017-18 season.The old short and long timeouts have been phased out.

What Was The Longest NBA Game?

The Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals played the longest NBA game on January 6, 1951, at Edgerton Park Arena in Rochester, New York.

This game lasted 78 minutes, and the Olympians won by a score of 75 to 73. This game went to six overtimes, and it is even in the Guinness Book of World Records.

It wasn’t quite as long as the longest college basketball game in history, but it’s still impressive. It was between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Bradley Braves on December 21, 1981. The Bearcats won 75–73.

The game lasted 75 minutes, which was only 3 minutes longer than the famous Olympians vs. Rochester Royals game.

And it’s interesting that another record was set because of this basketball game. Both guard Bobby Austin of Cincinnati and centre Donald Reese of Bradley played 73 minutes, which is still a record.

How Long Is A Basketball Game

What About College And High-School Basketball Games?

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) sets the rules for college basketball games, which are split into two 20-minute halves.

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There is a 15-minute break between each half as well.

The NFHS is in charge of how high school basketball games are played (National Federation of State High School Associations). In high school games, each quarter lasts 8 minutes, and there are 10 minutes between each half.

How Long Is A Basketball Quarter?

The length of a basketball quarter is determined by the league and association in which the game is played.I’ve already talked about quarter lengths, but if you skipped to this part to get the answers, here they are:

  • FIBA games:10 minutes, with 15-minute half time.
  • NBA games: 12 minutes, with 15-minute half time.
  • NCAA college games: Two halves of 20 minutes, with 15-minute half time.
  • NFHS high school games: 8 minutes, with 10-minute half time

How Long Is A Basketball Game

When Does The Clock Stop?

When the official blows his whistle, the clock stops. This could happen in the following situations:

  • The ball goes out of bounds.
  • A free throw is being shot.
  • A foul is called.
  • During timeouts.

After a field goal in the NBA, the clock also stops in the last minute of the first, second, and third periods. Also, when a field goal is made, the clock stops for the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or the last two minutes of overtime.

What Is The Shot Clock?

In basketball, the shot clock shows how long a team has after getting the ball to score a legal shot.

When a team gets control of the ball, the shot clock starts. The player with the ball must release it before the shot clock runs out.So if the clock goes off while the ball is still in the air and the ball goes in, it will be a goal.

How Long Is A Basketball Game

If the shot clock runs out before the team with the ball tries to score, that team has broken the rules, and the other team gets possession of the ball.

Different leagues and associations have different shot clock times.

  • FIBA games: 24 seconds or 14 seconds after an offensive rebound.
  • NBA games: 24 seconds.
  • NCAA college games: 35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women.
  • NFHS high school games: 30 or 35 seconds
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A Word About Timeout

During a basketball game, each team can call a certain number of timeouts. These breaks enable:

  • Coaches need to talk to their team.
  • Before playing, players need to rest or get in sync.
  • Both teams will have to make changes.

Different leagues and associations have different rules about timeouts.

  • In FIBA games, timeouts last one minute, and each team is allowed two timeouts in the first half, three timeouts in the second half (up to two timeouts when the game clock shows 2:00 or less in the fourth quarter), and one timeout in each overtime. You can’t use a timeout in the next half or in overtime.
  • In NBA games, timeouts last for 75 seconds, and each team gets seven of them. In the fourth period, each team can only use four timeouts. There is a limit of two timeouts for each overtime period.
  • NCAA games, During games that are shown on TV, NCAA teams can take three 30-second timeouts and one 60-second timeout.
  • High school games: Each high school team gets three 60-second timeouts and two 30-second timeouts. Each team gets an extra 60-second timeout in overtime.

There are a lot more things to know about timeouts, like how they are used in the NBA or how they carry over from one game to the next. Make sure to read the rules of your association so you know what’s going on.

How Long Is A Basketball Game


You should now know exactly how the time rules work in basketball.

I didn’t tell you everything there is to know because I wanted to keep this guide short and easy to understand.

Also, rules change very quickly, and my main goal was to tell you where you should look for official basketball rules.

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