When glancing over the history of the NBA, two franchises stand out above the rest. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics remain the anchors of success, accounting for 33 of the 71 total championships in league history. Many battles set the stage for some of the greatest NBA Finals moments, whether the most recent Lakers’ Game 7 victory at Staples Center in 2010 or going back to the days of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
Named after his father’s gold pocket watch, Elgin Baylor made time to set an NBA playoff record by scoring 61 points in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-121 victory over the Celtics in Game 5 of the Finals in Boston Garden. The teams had gone back-and-forth, with the Lakers jumping out to a 2-1 lead before faltering at home in Game 4. However, L.A. had a confident demeanor entering the contest, ready to battle from the get-go.
The acrobatic 6-foot-5 forward hit on 22-of-46 field-goal attempts and 17-of-19 free throws in breaking the record of 56 points that Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain had set just three weeks ago. Baylor’s hottest period was the first when he scored 18 points. With 15 in the second quarter, he set a playoff mark for most points in a half at 33. He scored 28 points in the second half. His last six take the Lakers from a 116-114 deficit into a 120-117 lead, as he would finish with 61 points and 22 rebounds.
While the win gave the Lakers a 3-2 advantage in the series, the Celtics would come back to win Game 6 in L.A. and Game 7 in Boston to capture their fourth consecutive title.