Kobe Plants 61 in Garden

February 3, 2009 Updated: February 3, 2009

NEW YORK—Long ago, the marquee on the old Madison Square Garden read “Geo Mikan v. Knicks.” That’s George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers superstar of the ‘50s.

Fast forward to last night, and it was “Kobe v. Knicks” at the new Garden, as the reigning MVP and Los Angeles Laker racked up 61 points by himself against the Knicks.

It was in a winning effort, 126–117. Kobe & Kompany led 56–45 at the half, with Kobe scoring 34 in the first two quarters.

It was the most points against the Knicks since Pistol Pete Maravich lit ‘em up for 68 in 1977, and the most points by anyone in the current Garden structure.

Kobe scored in every way imaginable Monday. He was a perfect 20-for-20 from the free-throw line, coming close to Dominque Wilkins’s 1992 single-game record of 23 without a miss.

He was 3 for 6 from behind the three-point line. His two-point baskets came on spin moves, dunks, jumpers—he used every weapon in the armory.

Los Angeles Lakers teammate Pau Gasol scored 31. Three Knicks (Al Harrington, David Lee, Wilson Chandler) hit the 20 mark, as coach Mike D’Antoni’s fluid offense scored well and often—just not as well (52.4 percent from the field) and often as the Lakers’.

Lamar Odom, picking up the slack inside in the first game after starting center Andrew Bynum’s knee injury put him on the shelf, collected 14 rebounds, as did Gasol. Interestingly, Kobe had 0 rebounds, prompting figure filberts to scour the record books for “most points without a rebound.” They’re still looking.

The Knicks dropped to 21–26, but are only one game out of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

The triple dose of top teams continues on Wednesday when the Cleveland Cavaliers and “King James” visit, and the Boston Celtics are at the Garden on Friday.