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 17, 1989
DENVER NUGGETS 105 – LA LAKERS 119
MAGIC HAS 24-24 NIGHT TO SET LAKER RECORD FOR ASSISTS
By 1989, Magic Johnson had switched from his ball-distributing guard position to that of a methodical forward, causing him to lower his assist count to numbers resembling his rookie and sophomore seasons at 8.4 per game. Guard Larry Drew had taken on the team’s distributing duties, allowing Johnson to focus on rebounding and defense with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar no longer in the lineup. With age a concern and a lack of a true center in the starting five, many were doubting the Lakers ability to return to the NBA Finals for their fourth straight trip.
Six years to the day of his 22-assist masterpiece against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Laker icon Magic Johnson saved perhaps his best conducting performance for his 1989 game against the fast-paced Denver Nuggets. Running like the Magic of old, Johnson would tally 20 dimes through three quarters before slowing down to finish with a franchise record 24 assists, surpassing Jerry West for the Laker record at 23 set back in 1967 and tied by Johnson the previous year.
The 24 assists would equal Johnson’s Laker playoff record set in 1984, and with many of those assists going to Laker forward A.C. Green, Green would score a season high 27 points in the 119-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Johnson’s 24 assists matching his 24 points on the night still stands as a Laker record, and since 1989, only four players have totaled more than Johnson’s 24 assists in an NBA game.
Quote of the Night: “You wanna know something? He didn’t play that well in the first half. You wanna know something, he didn’t have a great game. He didn’t take over; (A.C.) Green did. We were chopped liver by the time Magic took over.” Former Nuggets coach Doug Moe on Magic Johnson’s record-setting performance – From the LA Times, Nov. 18, 1989.
ALSO ON THIS DATE – NOVEMBER 17, 1978 – KAREEM’S NEAR QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE EXTENDS LAKER WIN STREAK
Thirty-three years ago today, Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put together a 32-23-9-8 performance to lead the Lakers to a 121-109 victory over the New Orleans Jazz, powering the Lakers to their 12th straight victory.