Top 5 scoring performances in Utah Jazz history

Everyone seems to be dropping 70-point games these days. Has a Jazz player ever done something like that?
“Pistol” Pete Maravich scoops up a layup attempt against the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
“Pistol” Pete Maravich scoops up a layup attempt against the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Ross Lewis/GettyImages

73, 70, 62, 62, 60. Since January 22nd, different players have scored these point totals in a single game. While 3 of these high-scoring games resulted in losses for the player's respective teams, it's undeniably an impressive achievement that deserves celebration. We're lucky to live in an era when seemingly any given player could have a randomly explode for 50-plus points (Tyrese Maxey just stole a win from Utah with a 51-point outburst on Thursday).

Unsurprisingly, none of those 60-point games listed above belong to a Jazz player, but with everyone and their dog dropping 50 these days, the Jazz historian inside me was curious to find out what are the highest-scoring games in Jazz history, and who on the current roster are due for a career-high scoring night?

Pete Maravich, Ted McClain
Pete Maravich of the New Orleans Jazz controls possession against the Denver Nuggets. / Mark Junge/GettyImages

1. Pete Maravich - 68 points

On February 25, 1977, Pistol Pete dropped 68 points without a 3-point line. Pete Maravich was way ahead of his time. A natural scorer and magician with the ball in his hands, Maravich found a way to fill up the stat sheet without the benefit of a 3-point line. This is the highest point total for a single game in the history of the Jazz, and it happened while the Jazz still belonged to New Orleans (I'm very grateful the Jazz kept their name through their move to Utah). If you're unfamiliar with Pistol Pete's game, do yourself a favor and watch a highlight reel. He ran circles around NBA defenses.

Karl Malone
Karl Malone shoots a free-throw. / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

2. Karl Malone - 61 points

Karl Malone is a 2-time NBA MVP, 3rd in total points in NBA history, and owner of the second-most points in a single game for the Jazz. In this game from January 27, 1990, Malone led Utah in dismantling Milwaukee 144-96. John Stockton had 16 assists as a result of feeding the beast all game. Karl Malone shot 80.8% from the field, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had to replace the nets after the game, due to Malone's shot being on fire for the entire game.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell in a game against the Miami Heat. / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

3. Donovan Mitchell - 57 points

The 2020 Disney World Playoffs were a strange time for the NBA. No fans were present for the games, and outrageous scoring totals were not uncommon. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz against Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets, as both players dropped 50-point games in unison a few games later. Mitchell's high-scoring output wasn't enough to save the Jazz from losing the series in 7, but this 57-point game was a product of highly competitive basketball.

Adrian Dantley
Adrian Dantley shoots a jumper against the Philadelphia 76ers. / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

4. Adrian Dantley - 57 points

Most Jazz fans younger than 50 don't remember (and I include myself in that group), but Adrian Dantley was an awesome player. In this 1982 game against the Pre-Jordan Bulls, Dantley went off for 57 points in a Jazz victory. The tandem of Dantley and Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith was dynamic and exciting. Both players were hyper-athletic and could fill up the stat sheet any given night. The Hall-of-Famer and six-time All-Star left a legacy behind in Utah, and that's why you can find his number hanging in the rafters of the Delta Center.

Karl Malone
Karl Malone hauls in a rebound against the Chicago Bulls. / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

5. Karl Malone - 56 points

The NBA's third all-time leading scorer was bound to be on this list more than once. In a 1998 game against 5'3" Muggsy Bogues and the Golden State Warriors, Karl Malone caught fire to put up 56 points-- more than half of the team's 101 total points. As good as Malone was, such a high-scoring output makes me wonder if Golden State assigned Bogues to defend him. Either way, this was a legendary team that would go on to win 62 games in the regular season and was one Jordan push-off away from a championship victory.

History is fun and all (right?), but when could we expect another scoring night like this from the Jazz? Most recently, Markkanen dropped 49 in a game last January, THT scored a random 41 against the Spurs, and Jordan Clarkson can go nuclear on any given night. Don't expect a 70-point game any time soon, but keep your eyes open. You never know when something special could happen.

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