In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.
NOVEMBER 11, 2001
ORLANDO MAGIC 95 – LA LAKERS 108
SHAQ, KOBE COMBINE FOR 66 AS LAKERS DEFEAT MAGIC
In early November of 2001, the Lakers were starting off the season the right way as back-t0-back NBA champions…at least statistically. Though they were going into their November 11th game against the Orlando Magic at 5-0, the effectiveness of new additions to the roster as well as Shaquille O’Neal’s health were still points of concern if the Lakers wanted to win their third straight NBA championship.
Despite breaking his nose early in the game, Kobe Bryant would come out to shoot an efficient 8-of-13 from the field, scoring 28 points in 33 minutes of play along with eight assists. Constant bleeding from the nose would force Bryant repeatedly to the bench, and at the end of the 108-95 win, Bryant’s nose, stuffed with gauze to limit the bleeding, more closely resembled that of a heavyweight fighter than a 23-year-old basketball phenom.
In Kobe’s absence, Shaquille O’Neal would roll to 38 points against a Magic roster that was ill prepared for the game – the team’s only players that could guard O’Neal would be the 39-year-old Patrick Ewing in the final year of his career, the 36-year-old former teammate of O’Neal in Horace Grant, and the 20-year-old recently-drafted Steven Hunter, who at that time weighed 100 pounds less than the officially-listed 325 pounds of O’Neal. Lacking any substantial competition inside, O’Neal would also finish with 18 rebounds and four blocks.
Though the Magic were considered to be the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference in the 2001-02 season, the Lakers would have no problem defeating the Magic 108-95 to move to 6-0. The Lakers would then continue their run of dominance for the next month, winning their next 10 of 11 to move to 16-1 en route to a 58-24 record and the 2002 NBA championship.
Quote of the Night: “Shaq’s unstoppable…and he’s not even in shape.” – Former Magic coach Doc Rivers, on his team’s ability to defend Shaquille O’Neal.