How Long Do NBA Quarters Last?

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National Basketball Association (NBA) quarters last for 12 minutes, and there are four of them during every NBA game. NBA games are very similar to National Football League (NFL) games in how they are structured. Learn more about quarter length for other types of basketball games, how long an NBA game lasts, and more about shot clocks and rules.

How Is an NBA Game Structured?

Like the NFL, an NBA game has four quarters and a halftime. The quarters of an NBA game are 12 minutes long, and there are also breaks between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth quarters, both consisting of two minutes long. Between the second and third quarter is halftime, which is 15 minutes for regular-season games. All of these breaks stop the official game clock as do timeouts. Each team is given seven timeouts, each of which lasts for 75 seconds. Teams are not required to use their timeouts. 

What Is the Shot Clock?

Another measurable unit of time in an NBA game is the shot clock. During play, either one team or the other will have possession of the ball. The team that possesses the ball has 24 seconds to shoot. This is true of every possession and is referred to as the shot clock. A penalty is called if the possessing team holds onto the ball longer than it should. This is to help keep the game flowing. 

How Long Is An Average NBA Game?

If you add up the time from all four quarters and the 15-minute halftime, you’ll arrive at an answer of 63 minutes. However, an NBA game is much longer than that, due to commercials ― as all games are televised ― fouls, penalties, and timeouts. An average NBA game lasts about 2 hours and 11 minutes. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), collegiate, high school, and youth basketball games all have different average length times.

What Is Different About the WNBA?

The women’s professional basketball league, or WNBA, is timed slightly differently than the NBA. The quarters during a WNBA game are 10 minutes long instead of 12, but this is the only time difference. Each team is still given seven timeouts for the entire game, and there is a 15-minute halftime. On average, a WNBA game is two hours long.

What Is Different About College Basketball?

Men’s college basketball is timed differently than the NBA and does not have quarters, but halves. Each half lasts 20 minutes each, and the game has a 15-minute halftime. However, because the clock is stopped much more often in a collegiate game, a college basketball game still lasts approximately two hours. However, a women’s college basketball game is similar to the WNBA, with four 10-minute quarters.

What Is Different About High School Basketball?

High school basketball also has four quarters, but they are short in length, at eight minutes per quarter. Because of this, high school games are often 90 to 105 minutes long. They vary because of variances in skill level, competition, and the number of fouls and penalties called per game.