I heard of how a 5-point play could be possible, but when I mentioned it people told me it's not possible -- and I can't remember how this would work.
I can remember 2 in recent history and they were both pretty strange.
Nuggets vs Clippers
March 17, 2014
- Chris Paul (Clippers) fouled Ty Lawson (Nuggets) while shooting a 3.
- Lawson made the 3.
- Paul received a tech (probably for cursing at the referee for the foul call).
End result: 3 pointer, 2 free throws
Jazz vs Mavericks
March 24, 2013
- Shawn Marion (Mavs) fouled by Derrick Favors (Jazz) while shooting a 2.
- Enes Kanter (Jazz) blocks the shot
- Referee rules that Kanter touched the net (goaltending)
- Blocked shot counts as 2 points
- Kanter given a tech for interference
- Tyrone Corbin (Jazz coach) is given a tech when the play is explained to him (probably more cursing).
End result: Goaltending (2 points), 3 free throws
A four-point play usually refers to when a single player scores four points on a single possession. We may thus analogously define a five-point play as when a single player scores five points on a single possession.
By this definition, a five-point play can only arise in tandem with technical or flagrant fouls. (And indeed, with the aid of technical and flagrant fouls, it is, by my reckoning, possible to have a 66-point play. See the end of this answer for my calculations.)
According to Harvey Pollack,† there have only ever been two five-point plays:
1. Kobe Bryant, LAL @ SAC, 2003-03-20
- Jim Jackson fouls Bryant on a made three-pointer (+3).
- Jackson is assessed a technical foul.
- Bryant makes the technical free throw (+1).
- Bryant then makes the free throw for the foul (+1).
2. Dell Curry, MIN @ CHH, 1995-01-11
Play-by-play data are not available that far back, but Googling you can find some newspaper reports on this. For example, from SF Gate:
MInnesota guard J.R. Rider, of Alameda, relentlessly taunted Charlotte sharpshooter Dell Curry throughout a recent game, then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer, and on top of that, got a technical for complaining, creating a five-point play for Charlotte. Said Curry of Rider, "He's stupid."
If we use the broader definition where a five-point play is whenever a team scores five points in a single possession, then there have been somewhat more instances. In addition to @SteveJackson's two examples, we have more recently:
Q1, 7:27. Carmelo Anthony commits Flagrant One Foul on Jae Crowder, who makes both free throws (+2). A technical foul is called on NYK (on the coach Derek Fisher, according to NESN) — Isaiah Thomas makes free throw (+1). Then Jae Crowder makes jumper (+2).
By NBA Official Rules 7 Sec. II:
(f) Team possession ends when:
(1) The ball hits the rim of the offensive team (2) The opponent gains possession. and
And so by (1), a possession ends even when a team gets an offensive rebound.
Going by this definition, Kyrie Irving's five consecutive points on 2017-11-13, Q4, 4:17, (OKC @ BOS) does not count as a 5-point play. (He was fouled by Westbrook on a made three-pointer, missed the free throw, caught his own rebound, then made a two-pointer.)
(Note though that many folks in the "analytics" business consider it to be the same possession even after an offensive rebound. This probably makes sense for the purpose of "analytics", but is not how possessions are counted according to the official NBA rules.)
†2010-2011 Harvey Pollack NBA Statistical Yearbook (p. 336), which in turn quotes Dennis D'Agostino.
In a single possession, each active player (max 12) can get a Flagrant One foul plus two technicals before being ejected. That generates 4 FTs each.
Each inactive player (max 3), each coach (max 3), and each trainer (one) can get two technicals before being ejected (see Rule 3, Section IV, d; and Rule 12, Section V, b). That generates 2 FTs each.
Altogether then, within a single play, we can have as many as 4 × 12 + 2 × (3 + 3 + 1) = 62 Flagrant One and Technical FTs. Add that to your "regular" four-point play and in theory, we can have as much as a 66-point play, where a single player scores 66 points on a single possession.
This of course is pretty unlikely. Indeed, I do not know if there has even ever been a 6-point play in the NBA.