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 23, 1997
LA CLIPPERS 102 – LA LAKERS 119
DEL HARRIS GETS 500th CAREER COACHING WIN IN LAKERS VICTORY
On a less than thrilling game night in The Forum, a double-digit victory over the hapless Clippers would be met with champagne bathes, yelping and cake in the locker room. No NBA records were broken and no Laker players were retiring, but one man had reached a special milestone in NBA coaching history, as Lakers coach Del Harris would record his 500th career win, placing him as one of the top 25 winningest coaches in NBA history.
Harris began his NBA head coaching career with the Houston Rockets, where his first two career games in 1979 were losses against the Boston Celtics (who were starting a rookie named Larry Bird) and the Philadelphia 76ers (whose Julius Erving would set an NBA career mark in scoring that season). Spending nine years as head coach for the Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, Harris would be hired in 1994 to turn around a young Lakers team that featured rookie Eddie Jones and sophomore point guard Nick Van Exel.
Jones would score a game-high 28 points, with Van Exel providing a season-high 11 assists in the 119-102 victory. Also of note would be the 24 points scored in 28 minutes off the bench from a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant, who would also post a game-high four steals in limited action. The win would move the Lakers to 11-0 on the season, equaling their sixth best winning streak in franchise history and sending to the Clippers into the cellar at 1-12.
Quote of the Night: “It means I’m old.” – Former Lakers coach Del Harris on the significance of his 500th career coaching victory. – From the LA Times, Nov. 24, 1997.