Kobe led the Lakers to a 126-117 victory, as he put up one of the greatest individual scoring outings The Mecca has ever witnessed. Bean shot 19-for-31 from the floor, 3-for-6 from behind the line while knockin down each of his 20 free-throw attempts. Pau Gasol had 31 points of his own, with Trevor Ariza being the only other Laker to score in double digits with 13. Bryant had 34 in the first half alone, with LA having an 11 point lead going into the break. He dropped 15 in the fourth, as he led the Lakers to their 38th win of the season.
In the absence of Andrew Bynum, who went down with a knee injury a couple of nights earlier, the offensive burden on Kobe increased, and Black Mamba more than delivered. The sold-out crowd saluted Bryant’s historical performance with few MVP chants, which culminated when Bryant passed Michael Jordan’s opponent record of 55 points scored in The Mecca, as well as when he broke MSG’s single-game scoring record of 60, set by Bernard King on Christmas day of ’84.
When asked about it during the postgame interview, Kobe said three things fueled his iconic performance. Playing at an electrifying place that is the Garden was the first one. Setting the tone for the rest of their Eastern Conference road trip was the second one. And the third one – Spike Lee – Knicks’ superfan whom Kobe worked on the project with.
“On a lighter note, I’m going to review this documentary I’m doing with Spike Lee tonight after the game, and I didn’t feel like sitting next to him and hearing him talking trash about the Knicks, so that was added incentive as well. Seriously. He’s going to get an earful tonight.”Kobe Bryant, ESPN
More than a decade later, following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, Spike Lee discovered that an earful wasn’t the only thing Kobe got him that night. Bryant signed a box-score from his iconic performance at the Garden and gave it to Spike as an everlasting memory of dropping 61 on his beloved New York Knicks.
This was all to deprive Lee of the satisfaction of talking smack while the two worked on ‘Kobe Doin’ Work‘ together. Instead, it was Kobe who did the talking. And he had an-all time great MSG performance to back it up.