Kobe Tops King and Jordan by Dropping 61 Points at MSGBernard King and Michael Jordan have to move aside in the Madison Square Garden record book--Kobe Bryant just dropped 61 points on the Knicks in a 126-117 Lakers win, breaking King's mark for most points in the "new" MSG (60 on Christmas Day 1984) and surpassing Jordan's standard for most points by an opposing player in that building (the famous "double nickel" game during his first comeback in 1995); the current Madison Square Garden--also known as "Garden IV"--opened in February 1968. Bryant shot 19-31 from the field (including 3-6 from three point range) and made all 20 of his free throws. He only played 37 minutes, scoring 18 points in the first quarter, 16 points in the second quarter, 12 points in the third quarter and 15 points in the fourth quarter.
It should not be forgotten or discounted that Bryant is playing with a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand, an injury that would knock a lot of players out of the lineup (LeBron James missed six games last year with a less severe finger injury). Of course, Bryant played the latter part of last season and in the Olympics with an avulsion fracture in the pinkie finger on the same hand, an injury for which he will eventually need surgery, but--as I mentioned in a recent post--it only took Bryant 15 days after that pinkie injury to have a 40 point game. Bryant topped himself this time, exceeding the 40 point mark just 14 days after his most recent finger injury.
Bryant has now scored at least 50 points in 24 regular season games, trailing only Jordan (31) and Wilt Chamberlain (118) on the all-time list. This was the fourth highest scoring output of Bryant's career and his fifth 60 point game, second most all-time (Jordan had four, Baylor tallied three); Chamberlain leads that list with 32 such games. Before Mike Wilbon or anyone else makes noise about how bad it supposedly is for the Lakers when Bryant shoots a lot, it should be noted that the Lakers are 17-7 in Bryant's 50 point games and 65-30 when he scores at least 40 points.
Starting at center for the first time this season in the wake of Andrew Bynum's knee injury, Pau Gasol had 31 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and five assists. Trevor Ariza added 13 points and no other Laker reached double figures. Al Harrington led the Knicks with 24 points.
Monday was a banner day for Bryant; he also received the Western Conference Player of the Month award on Monday after averaging 27.2 ppg (fourth in the NBA) and 7.1 apg (ninth in the NBA) while leading the Lakers to a 12-4 record.
posted by David Friedman @ 10:59 PM