In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers becomes the first player in NBA history to score 71 points in a game. This helps lift the Lakers to a 123-108 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The previous best in NBA was also set by Baylor as a 64-point game while playing with the Minneapolis Lakers against the Boston Celtics in 1959.
Elgin Baylor was born on September 16, 1934, in Washington, DC. Baylor would travel across the country and play at Seattle, leading his team to the Final Four in 1958. After which, he was the first overall pick by the Minneapolis Lakers. Baylor quickly became one of the best players in the NBA, winning Rookie of the Year in 1959. As the Lakers played their final season in Minneapolis, he became one of the league’s top scorers setting a single-game record with 64 points on November 8th.
After the Lakers moved to Los Angeles, Elgin Baylor again went for the record for points in a game. It was the Lakers' 12th game since the move; they were off to a 4-7 start as they got set to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was an overall great night for Elgin Baylor, as he also had 25 rebounds. It was the era before the three-point shot, so high-scoring games were more of an effort. Elgin Baylor was 28 for 48 from the field on the way to 71 points while making 15 of 19 free throws. The Lakers would win the game easily 123-108.
Elgin Baylor’s new record would last just 13 months, as Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 78 points against the Lakers on December 8, 1961. Chamberlain would set the record two more times, ending with his famous 100-point night. Baylor’s best night still ranks eighth all-time in the NBA.