How NBA Games Work

How do NBA games work? What are the rules and regulations? Let’s take a look at a typical NBA game and find out!


In the National Basketball Association (NBA), a game between two teams lasts for four 12-minute quarters. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, the teams play an extra five minutes to determine a winner. This overtime period is divided into two halves, each lasting for three minutes.

During each quarter, the teams have two mandatory time-outs and can call for one additional time-out. If a team calls for a time-out when they do not have any remaining, they are charged with a technical foul.

At the start of each quarter and after every successful basket, the ball is inbounded from half court by a member of the team that did not score. After an unsuccessful basket or free throw, the defending team is given possession of the ball.

The Basics

The Court

The court is actually smaller than you might think — 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. The playing surface is made of hardwood, and it’s surrounded by a padded barrier called the free-throw lane. Beyond that is the three-point line, which is 23 feet, 9 inches from the basket at the center of each end of the court.

There are also lines on the court that designate the space in which players must stand during a free throw attempt. The free-throw line itself is located 15 feet from the backboard, and there are markings on the floor that extend 4 feet on either side of this line. These are called lane spaces, and they’re where players must stand until the ball hits the rim during a free throw attempt.

The Ball

Basketball is a game played by two teams of five players each on a rectangular court. The objective is to shoot a ball through a hoop 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter and 10 feet (3.0 m) high mounted to a backboard at each end of the court. The game was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith, who would be the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas. A team can score a field goal by shooting the ball through the basket during regular play. A field goal scores three points for the shooting team if the player shoots from behind the three-point line, and two points if shot from in front of the line. A team can also score via free throws, which are worth one point, after the other team is assessed with certain fouls.

The Basket

The basket is the goal in basketball. It is a metal or polyester net attached to a backboard that measures 6 feet by 3.5 feet. The backboard is made of light-weight material such as tempered glass or plexiglass.

A player scores points by shooting the ball through the basket from anywhere on the court. A player can also score points by shooting free throws. Free throws are awarded after a player is fouled while shooting, or if a technical foul is committed against the defensive team. Each successful free throw is worth one point.

The Players

The NBA is composed of thirty different teams, each with their own players. The players are all insanely talented at basketball and have worked hard to be where they are. There are five main positions on a basketball team: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each position.

The Offense

The offense is the team with the ball. It tries to score points by advancing the ball into the opponent’s basket. The offense can score by shooting the ball through the basket or by making a free throw. If an offensive player is fouled while shooting and his shot doesn’t go in, he gets two free throws. The offense also can score by getting the ball to a player who tips it in.

The offensive team has three seconds to get a shot off once it gains control of the ball. It can take longer if the player with the ball starts dribbling or if he’s not near the basket. Once an offensive player stops dribbling, he must pass or shoot within five seconds. If he doesn’t, the ball is turned over to the other team.

The Defense

The defense is the team that is trying to prevent the other team from score. A player on the defense tries to stay between the player with the ball and the basket. If the player with the ball dribbles past them, they try to back up and block them from scoring. If a player on the other team gets open, they try to stop them from receiving a pass. And if a player on the other team starts to shoot, they jump up and try to block their shot.

The Game

An NBA game is made up of four 12-minute quarters, for a total of 48 minutes of playing time. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, then overtime periods of 5 minutes each are played until a winner is determined. There are time-outs of 60 seconds each that can be called by either team, and each team is also given 2 additional time-outs that can only be used in the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter or in any overtime period.

Playing the Game

Each NBA game is divided into four 12-minute quarters. At the start of the first and third quarters, and at the start of each half, the ball is placed at center court. A jump ball is then used to begin play. During a jump ball, two opposing players stand facing each other with their elbows on top of the basketball. The referee then tosses the ball up between them, and they both leap and try to tap it to their team’s side. Once a team gains control of the ball, they have 24 seconds to attempt a shot before they must give up control of the ball to the other team. If a team does not attempt a shot within 24 seconds, it is said to have committed a turnover.

The game clock stops whenever:
– A player scores
– A foul is committed
– The ball goes out of bounds
– A timeout is called
– A free throw is attempted
At the end of each quarter, the team with the most points wins that quarter. The score for each quarter is tallied and added to the cumulative score for both teams at the end of regulation time. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, overtime periods are played until one team finally emerges with a one-point lead over the other.


In basketball, a foul is an infraction of the rules more serious than a violation. A player, coach, or team official can commit a foul. Fouls result in free throws in addition to the normal play. Aggressive fouls (including flagrant fouls) are given set penalties such as ejection from the game and suspension from playing future games.

A personal foul is the most common type of foul. It involves illegal contact between two opposing players while the ball is live. The player who committed the foul is charged with a personal foul, and the opposing team is awarded one or two free throws, depending on whether the shot was worth two or three points. A player who has committed five personal fouls in a game (four in some leagues) is disqualified from that game; fouling out.


An NBA game has four 12-minute quarters. The game clock does not stop during the quarters, except for timeouts and other special circumstances. If a team scores, the game clock stops and restarts when the opposing team inbounds the ball.

Each shot that is successful scores 2 or 3 points depending on where it was taken from. Shots taken from inside the 3-point arc are worth 2 points while shots taken from behind the 3-point arc are worth 3 points. Free throws are worth 1 point each.

A team can score by making shots, shooting free throws, or by other means such as goaltending or offensive fouls.


In conclusion, NBA games are exciting and entertaining to watch. There are four quarters in an NBA game, each lasting twelve minutes. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, overtime periods may be played until a winner is determined.

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