Garden party: Kobe’s 61 sets MSG record
Kobe Bryant knew Andrew Bynum was out, and potential taunts from Spike Lee and Mike D’Antoni could be ahead.
That gave him plenty of incentive to deliver a special night at Madison Square Garden—and he unleashed the biggest game the present building has seen.
Bryant broke the current arena record with 61 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers looked plenty potent without Bynum in a 126-117 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
“It’s a blessing to do what you love and to have moments like this,” Bryant said.
Bryant teased and pleased a sold-out crowd that took turns booing him and saluting him with “MVP!” chants during an electrifying performance. He passed Michael Jordan’s opponent record of 55 points at the present building, known as “Garden IV,” when he hit three free throws with 3:56 remaining, then bettered Bernard King’s mark of 60, set on Christmas Day 1984, with two more foul shots with 2:33 to play.
Bryant, who also finished with the highest-scoring game in the NBA this season, left to a loud ovation after the 24th 50-point game of his career. It was also his fifth 40-point game here, where the Knicks played their first game in February 1968.