One of the top candidates for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz, exploded for 40 points off the bench in the Jazz's win over the Philadelphia 76ers in a clash of teams with the best records in each conference. Clarkson has been consistent as a sixth man for the Jazz and is the front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award in the 2020-21 NBA season.
It was his fourth game of at least 25 points this season and his first 40-point game for Utah. In this report, we will take a look at five NBA players who scored the most points off the bench in a single game.
5 Bench players with the most points scored in a single NBA game
Clarkson himself is tied for the eighth-most points scored by a bench player in a single game in NBA history when he put up a career-high 42 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 13th, 2019, in a game with three OT periods against the Brooklyn Nets.
We have seen some rare games off the bench in NBA history, as even the legendary Larry Bird made the list of the most points scored off the bench in a 47-point outing on April 12th, 1985, against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the final three games of the 1984-85 regular season, the eventual winner of the MVP came off the bench as the team was preparing for the 1985 NBA Playoffs.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the five players with the most points scored in a single NBA game off the bench.
#5 Darius Miles - 47 points
Darius Miles did not have the stellar NBA career that was expected of him when the LA Clippers drafted him with the third overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft. However, he showed glimpses of great abilities.
In his fifth NBA season, while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, Miles put up one of his best performances with 47 points against the Denver Nuggets in a four-point loss. Miles played 40 minutes off the bench and made 19 of his 33 field goals.
#4 Mike Woodson - 48 points
Mike Woodson played 11 NBA seasons with the New York Knicks, Kansas City/Sacramento Kings, LA Clippers, Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Some of his best years came with the Kings and he put up good performances off the bench, especially in the 1982-83 season. That year, on February 20th, Woodson put on a show against the Houston Rockets in a 128-106 win for KC. He scored 48 points and made 22 of his 24 field-goal attempts (1/1 from the 3P line) in 32 minutes off the bench.
That performance tied the then record for most points scored by a player off the bench in a single NBA game.
#3 Mike Dunleavy Sr. - 48 points
Mike Dunleavy Sr. had a quiet playing career in the NBA. Still, he managed to play 438 games in 11 seasons in the league and was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
At Houston, Dunleavy played 280 games and started 15 times over five years. The 1980-81 season was the best of his NBA career, as he averaged 10.5 points and 3.6 assists per game in just 21.7 minutes per night.
On December 6th, 1980, Dunleavy scored a career-high 48 points off the bench against the Denver Nuggets to break Cazzie Russell's record of 46 points off the bench in a game. Eventually, Dunleavy started in the 1981 NBA Finals for the Rockets and even led the team to a win in the fourth game with 28 points to tie the series at two before Boston won two consecutive games and the 1981 championship.
#2 Nick Anderson - 50 points
Shaquille O'Neal's era with the Orlando Magic had some great moments and some other young players stepped up on many occasions. Nick Anderson was one of those young players who often played well for the Magic in that time.
Anderson played 13 NBA seasons in his career and the first 10 came at Orlando. He played 800 games in his career and started 636. At the end of the 1992-93 regular season, Anderson came off the bench in a game against the New Jersey Nets and scored a career-high 50 points and made 17 of his 25 shots.
The performance established a new record for most points scored off the bench in a game. It was also the first time in NBA history that a player reached 50 points in a game coming off the bench.
#1 Jamal Crawford - 51 points
Jamal Crawford is one of the premier bench players in NBA history and he owns some impressive records for best players, such as having a joint record three NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards (tied with Lou Williams).
Crawford also put up the greatest scoring game for a player off the bench in NBA history, when he put up 51 points for the Phoenix Suns against the Dallas Mavericks on April 9th, 2019. It was the final game of the 2018-19 season, and Crawford also became the fifth-oldest player in NBA history to reach 40 points, at 39 years and 20 days old.