There are very few players in the history of the NBA who were capable of the scoring exploits of Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers legend constantly put up performances that would leave fans and the opposition shaking their head in amazement.
That was the case on Feb. 2, 2009, when Kobe and the Lakers took the floor at Madison Square Garden, aka ‘The Mecca of Basketball’ aka ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena.’ The Lakers were rolling at the time, on a mission to return to the NBA Finals, and the New York Knicks were not going to stand in their way. Kobe would make sure of that.
He went off, scoring in every way possible and wowing the MSG crowd. Bryant would finish with a new-arena record of 61 points, leading the Lakers to a 126-117 victory over the Knicks. Kobe was so dominant that he even garnered some MVP chants from the Knicks fans, something that had never been seen or heard before for an opponent in the famed arena.
Kobe broke Michael Jordan’s record for an opponent in MSG of 55 points as well as Bernard King’s overall record of 60 points. Kobe’s record would eventually be broken by Carmelo Anthony who scored 62 points in 2014, but his performance still stands as the record for an opponent.
Lost in Kobe’s outstanding night was Pau Gasol’s performance as he added 31 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. His performance was especially important as this was the Lakers’ first game since losing Andrew Bynum to a torn MCL, and Gasol ensured the Lakers wouldn’t miss a step without their center.
This was the Lakers’ third straight win on their road trip and they would go on to finish that trip a perfect 6-0. Most importantly, they would eventually make their Finals return and win a championship.
But on this night it was Kobe, once again, being the dominant force everyone knew him to be and setting Madison Square Garden on fire.
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