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 8, 1959
BOSTON CELTICS 115 – MINNEAPOLIS LAKERS 136
ELGIN BAYLOR SETS NBA RECORD WITH 64-POINT PERFORMANCE
From a time when the Lakers’ name stemmed from their actual location, the Minneapolis Lakers were coming off a season where rookie Elgin Baylor carried them to the NBA Finals, only to be swept by the Boston Celtics. After a sensational season that garnered Rookie of the Year honors, most basketball watchers expected Baylor to experience a sophomore slump, in part because of coaching turnover from the departure of the franchise’s lone coach John Kundla. However, in Baylor’s first date with Boston since the 1959 Finals sweep, slumping was last thought on Baylor’s mind.
In a 136-115 win over the Celtics, Baylor would score 64 points, a new NBA record eclipsing the standing record of 63 points by Joe Fulks set ten years prior. Baylor’s record would stand for a year before he would break own his mark by scoring 71 points against the New York Knicks. His 71 points would stay a Laker record for over 40 years until Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. The 136-115 win would give Boston their first loss of the season, against a talented roster that included Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, who would be held to three points in the game.
To put into context what Baylor accomplished that night, here is Baylor’s box score compared to the box score for Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance in 2006, what many consider the greatest one-man scoring performance in modern NBA history:
Baylor, 1959 : 64 PTS – 25-47 FG – 14-19 FT – 17 REB – 8 AST
Bryant, 2006 : 81 PTS – 28-46 FG – 18-20 FT – 6 REB – 2 AST
Aside from rebounding and assists, with similar scoring percentages, the biggest difference maker between Baylor and Bryant’s performances would be the existence of a three-point line for Bryant, allowing him to score more points on a similar number of shots (on 7-13 shooting that night in Los Angeles). Though many of us never had a chance to witness a game by Elgin Baylor, it’s important not to forget his pure skill in comparison to players today. As Jerry West put it in 1992, “I hear people talking about forwards today and I haven’t seen many that can compare with him.”
Fact of the Night: The Lakers’ victory over the Celtics on Nov. 8 was their first over Boston in 22 regular season games spanning across three seasons.
ALSO ON THIS DATE – NOVEMBER 8, 1981 – KAREEM MOVES UP TO THIRD PLACE ON ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Abdul-Jabaar would score 15 points in a 121-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks, passing John Havlicek for third place on the all-time scoring list.