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 22, 1950
FORT WAYNE PISTONS 19 – MINNEAPOLIS LAKERS 18
PISTONS EDGE OUT LAKERS IN LOWEST SCORING GAME IN NBA HISTORY
Not all days in Laker history are good days.
In three years of existence, the Minneapolis Lakers had won three championships: one with the National Basketball League (NBL), another when the Lakers joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948, and a third when the NBL and BAA merged in 1949 to create the National Basketball Association. Led by a frontline consisting of 6’9″ star George Mikan, the Lakers were basketball’s elite team.
However, when the Fort Wayne Pistons traveled to Minneapolis, then-Pistons coach Murray Mendenhall had a strategy to overcome the length and experience of the Lakers. After winning the opening tip, the Pistons simply held the ball at half court and did nothing. Mendenhall’s idea was that his Pistons team would not be able to compete inside against Mikan and the other Laker players, so Mendenhall instructed his players to hold the ball and let the Lakers come to them.
As fans and officials yelled at the Pistons to play, the Pistons stuck to their game plan, holding the ball for as long as three minutes at a time. Action would only begin once a Laker defender would go out to try and strip the ball, leading to a 13-11 halftime lead that saw more idle standing than basketball. With the lead in hand, the Lakers took their turn stalling with the ball, only to have the game’s final minute result in back-and-forth scoring and free throws before the Pistons’ Larry Foust would make a basket will six seconds remaining giving the Pistons a 19-18 lead. The Lakers’ Slater Martin would heave a shot down the court, only to have the shot clank off the front iron, giving the Pistons the victory in the lowest scoring game in NBA history.
The 19-18 loss would break a streak of 29 straight home victories for the Lakers, and Mikan would score 15 points for the Lakers, including their four total baskets. The eight combined field goals for both clubs would set an NBA low, and the 37 total points would be the lowest in the modern era. While the following three years would not see any rule revisions, the 19-18 game would lead to the NBA adopting a shot clock beginning in the 1954-55 season to deter teams from stalling and slowing down the game.
Quote of the Night: “If that’s basketball, I don’t want any part of it.” – Former Lakers coach John Kundla on the Pistons’ stall tactics in their 19-18 loss. - Basketball’s Original Dynasty: The History of the Lakers