Baylor’s 71 Still Tops Kobe, LeBron at MSG

It’s been quite a week for basketball at Madison Square Garden, and it’s not over yet, with the arch-rival and defending NBA champion Boston Celtics coming in Friday night.

First the Lakers Kobe Bryant dropped 61 points on the Knicks Monday night to set the all-time, single game scoring record at the current Madison Square Garden. Then, two nights later, the Cavs LeBron James completed a rare triple double with 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, the first triple double with 50 points since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975.

Kobe eclipsed the Knicks Bernard King, who scored 60 points against the New Jersey Nets on Christmas Day, 1984. That season, King became the only Knick ever to lead the NBA in scoring, averaging 32.9 points per game.

And Kobe also bested Michael Jordan’s 55 in the famous “double nickel” game in 1995 for the most points by a visiting player at the new Garden. Film-maker Spike Lee, who came up with the double nickel coinage, called Kobe’s effort the “Roger Maris” in reference to the Yankee slugger’s 61 home runs in 1961.

Baylor Outburst at Old MSG
Although Kobe’s 61 established the present Garden record, the all-time record occurred on November 15, 1960, when Lakers forward and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor burned the Knicks for 71 points at the old Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue and 50th Street. The Lakers won the game, 123-108, and the Knicks finished the season with a franchise-low 21 victories.

One year earlier, on December 11, 1959, New York’s Richie Guerin became the first Knick to score 50 points in a game when he notched 57 in a 152-121 win over the Syracuse Nationals at the Garden. Guerin, a product of Iona College, averaged 29.5 points per game in the 1961-62 season, a Knicks’ team record that stood until King’s great 1983-84 campaign.

Of course, the great Wilt Chamberlain set the all-time, single game record when he scored 100 points against the Knicks as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pa, Wilt averaged 50.4 points per game that year, the best in NBA history.

And Guerin, who scored 39 points the night Wilt got 100, finished sixth in the league in scoring in 1961-62, behind Wilt, Walt Bellamy, Bob Pettit and Oscar Robertson, all of whom averaged at least 30 per game that year.

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