Playing the Lakers always brought the best out of Gilbert Arenas. “I don’t know what it was,” he said on the latest episode of “All The Smoke.” “It was just one of those teams I always got up for.” But on December 17, 2006, the Wizards guard outdid himself.
Gil led his team to a 147-141 overtime victory against the Purple and Gold, setting the franchise record with 60 points — Bradley Beal tied it in ’21 — more than anybody, except Wilt Chamberlain, has scored against the Lakers. He outscored Kobe Bryant by 15 points and had 16 points in the 5-minute extra period. Arenas added 8 rebounds and 8 assists, shooting 17-for-32 from the floor, 5-for-12 from three, and 21-for-27 from the charity stripe.
After the game, Kobe praised Arenas, saying he “made some unbeliveable shots.” But all Arenas remembers is what Bryant said to him right before the tip-off, after Gil had watched him go through two pre-game workouts.
I was like, ‘that man just unstoppable.’ I’m seeing his coaches hacking on him, and he’s still putting his shots up. And then, he said it. He said it as soon as the jump ball started — ‘hey, I’mma shut down Gil, Smush you go there.’Gilbert Arenas, All The Smoke
Despite Kobe’s wish, the Lakers’ coaching staff put Smush Parker on Arenas. And Gil took advantage of that. He was in attack mode right away. By the time they switched Bryant on him, it was already too late.
Once I got going, it was really nothing he was going to do.Gilbert Arenas, All The Smoke
Arenas’ 16 points in overtime set an NBA record for points scored in an extra period. That record was broken in ’16 by Steph Curry. His 60 points marked the second-most points scored in a game in Staples Center history, behind only Kobe’s 81. Gil and Bryant also did something only six other pairs of opponents had ever done, scoring 60-plus points and 45-plus points in the same game.
Mamba followed it up with a plethora of high-scoring single-game performances. Arenas — not so much. In fact, 60 points on December 17, 2006, remained the threshold he was never able to eclipse. No wonder it came against the Lakers.