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On This Date in Sports February 25, 1977: Pistol Pete Fires off 68

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Pistol Pete Maravich has the game of his life, scoring 68 points to lead the New Orleans Jazz to a 124-107 win over the New York Knicks at the Louisiana Superdome. Maravich who was in the midst of the best season of his career would win the NBA’s scoring title with 31.1 points per game. The 68 points were the most ever for a guard at the time.

Pete Maravich grew up playing basketball as the son of a coach on June 22, 1947, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. A uniquely gifted player at an early age, Pistol Pete was driven to succeed by his father Press Maravich, who would later coach him at LSU. There he would become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. Drafted third overall in the 1970 draft, Pistol Pete Maravich would become an instant fan favorite and an All-Star. After four years with the Hawks, the expansion New Orleans Jazz looking to establish a fan base landed Maravich in a blockbuster trade.

With the New Orleans Jazz, Pete Maravich became the only thing for fans to cheer at the spacious Superdome, as the expansion team struggled to draw fans and rarely had any success. In the team’s third season Pistol, Pete was in the midst of winning the NBA scoring time for the first time in his career. However, the Jazz still was far from a playoff spot as they came into a Friday Night Game holding a record of 25-33 under coach Elgin Baylor. The New York Knicks were not much better under Red Holtzman, sitting at 27-32.

It would be the second time in a week that the Jazz faced the Knicks, three days earlier they had been beaten by the Knicks at Madison Square Garden 119-108. The Jazz had played well at home, all season entering the game with a record of 20-8 at the Superdome. That night Pistol Pete Maravich was on target all night, making 26 of 43 shots from the field and 16 of 19 free throws as the Jazz won the game 124-107. New Orleans only had two other players reach double-digits with Mo Howard scoring 12 points off the bench and Otto Moore scoring ten points. New York meanwhile was led by Bob McAdoo who had 28 points.

The 1976/77 season was the best season of Pistol Pete Maravich’s career, as he led the league in scoring with 31.1 points per game. It was the only scoring title of his career. On the way to winning the scoring title, Maravich topped 40 points 13 times, including four games in which he topped 50. At the time, the 68-point night by Pete Maravich was the eighth highest scoring game in NBA history, six of the games that had more points were by Wilt Chamberlain, with his coach Elgin Baylor having the other.