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 20, 2008
LA LAKERS 105 – PHOENIX SUNS 92
Though the two won three rings together, most people can remember the Shaq-and-Kobe Laker era with some sort of resentment over the departure of big man Shaquille O’Neal after the 2003-04 season. Whether you’re a Kobe apologist or a Shaq defender, it’s easy to say that the two superstars left a lot on the table when they split up following their NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons. While Kobe has spent 15 years in the City of Angels, most NBA fans know Shaq’s travels to Miami, Cleveland, Boston, and, in the case in 2008, with the Phoenix Suns.
Four years removed from their supposed feud, the hostility had been tempered between the two superstars. New teams (for O’Neal) and new teammates (for both) make the game more of a team contest between the former teammates. Bryant would only make 8 of his 23 attempts, scoring 24 points against a rotating cast of Suns defenders, and O’Neal would only play for 27 minutes.
Interestingly enough, up until their November 20th game in 2008, Laker center Andrew Bynum and O’Neal had only ever played two minutes on the floor together, with most Laker fans remember the two trading dunks and technical fouls in a January game in 2006 when O’Neal was with the Miami Heat. Injuries between the two centers had kept them from matching up until their game three years ago, where O’Neal would outduel Bynum in points 15-10 and in rebounds 9-7.
Despite Kobe’s off-night and O’Neal’s advantage at center, the Lakers would get the last laugh, as six Lakers would hit double digit points in a 105-92 victory over the Suns. As Lamar Odom hit a three-pointer to make it 89-71 with less than nine minutes to play, Suns fans could be seen filtering out of US Airways Arena as chants of “Let’s go Lakers!” echoed through the arena.
Quote of the Night: “He got me in foul trouble in the second quarter,” Bynum said. “He’s still hard to keep out of the paint. He still dominates, he still gets the ball, he still finds his teammates.” - Lakers center Andrew Bynum on defending 36-year-old former Laker Shaquille O’Neal. -From the LA Times, Nov. 21, 2008
ALSO ON THIS DATE – NOVEMBER 20, 1992 – JORDAN SETS VISITORS RECORD IN FORUM
While Bulls legend Michael Jordan would drop 54 points in The Forum setting a visitor’s scoring record, the Lakers would mount a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback to beat the two-time defending champion Bulls in overtime 120-118.