Kobe Drops 61 in MSG

February 3, 2009

Kobe Bryant set the Madison Square Garden scoring record with a 61-point explosion, as the Lakers cruised past the Knicks 126-117 on Monday night. Pau Gasol also added 31 points in improving the Lakers' record to 38-9 on the season.

Drawing gasps and cheers from the sold-out crowd, Bryant shot 19 of 31 from the field, and made all 20 of his free throws. Even head coach Phil Jackson perhaps sensed the enormity of the moment and left Bryant in the game despite the lopsided score. When Bryant finally came out with under 2 minutes remaining, Jackson got off the bench (a rare sight)and gave his player a high-five as the standing crowd chanted "MVP!"

However, Jackson quickly returned back to his normal self during the press conference. When talking to the media he noted that although he appreciated Bryant's hot start (18 first quarter points) this did not necessarily guarantee a great game. He noted that Bryant scored 14 out of the Laker's first 18 points in Game 6 against the Celtics in the NBA Finals and then wore down before the Lakers were blown out.

In his postgame interview Bryant stated he was unaware that he had set a Garden record. While this was certainly possible, one must also remember that Bryant claims that during his famous 81 point performance he did not know his personal stats until he reached 77 points.

The previous arena record had been 60 by Bernard King and the most points scored by an opponent was 55 points, courtesy of then #45 Michael Jordan.

Earlier in the day the Lakers had learned that their 21-year old center Andrew Bynum was going to be sidelined for 8-12 weeks when an MRI on his knee revealed a torn MCL. The young center had become the imposing defense presence that the Lakers lacked last season. Bynum had 5 straight double-doubles before getting injured and was averaging over 25 points in his last 6 games.

While questions still remain whether the Lakers will struggle without Bynum's size and toughness, Bryant made sure to pick up the slack on this night, at least on the offensive end.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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