Continuing a series that I started by listing the Lakers greatest individual seasons, we’ll now look at the greatest single-game performances by a Laker. Much like the previous list, this one is also filled with some amazing games. This list is only composed of regular season games, with a separate list coming for playoff games.
Unfortunately, the only available archives don’t date back far enough to include anything more than points for the likes of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Wilt Chamberlain. As a result, their regular season games won’t be included.
With all that being said, let’s jump right in.
10. Kobe Bryant at Portland (2013) – 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, 14-27 FG, 18-18 FT
We’ll see this man many more times throughout the list, that’s a certainty. However, starting us off is his masterpiece from last season. With the Lakers fighting for their playoff lives, the Lakers traveled to Portland, where they always struggle. It didn’t help that Damian Lillard was red hot. But Kobe matched him point for point while filling the stat sheet. Every huge play in the game featured Kobe, whether it be a big steal, a meeting at the rim, or a huge shot.
9. Shaquille O’Neal (2003) – 48 points, 20 rebounds, 19-24 FG, 10-19 FT
Shaq is another man whom we’ll see multiple times on this list. This performance was a beauty, as Shaq only missed five shots on his way to one of his two 40-20 games with the Lakers (we’ll also see the other game). It did seem that most of Shaq’s big games coincided with a strong performance from him at the FT line. And while this wasn’t a strong performance, you’ll take 10-19 at the line from Shaq.
8. Magic Johnson vs. LA Clippers (1985) – 22 points, 20 assists, 9 rebounds, 9-12 FG
Magic Johnson is more remembered for some of his superb playoff performances, but he had his share of great regular season games. The most impressive fact of this one is his devastating efficiency. He missed just three shots and had only two turnovers on his way to one of his nine 20-20 games.
7. Shaquille O’Neal vs. Milwaukee (2004) – 31 points, 26 rebounds, 7 blocks, 14-16 FG, 3-5 FT
Speaking of staggering efficiency, Shaq one-upped Magic’s performance by going 14-16 from the field and 3-5 from the line. 31 points on 16 shots is impressive enough, but for Shaq to add 26 rebounds AND 7 blocks? You can’t ask more from the Diesel than that. His 7 blocks were his 3rd best mark with the Lakers and was one of the bright spots in the dismal 2004 Lakers season.
6. Kobe Bryant vs. Seattle (2003) – 45 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 16-28 FG, 12-18 3PT
The point total itself isn’t necessarily impressive for Kobe this game; he’s scored 40 points 100 different times in the regular season. But this night was a record breaking one as Kobe’s 12 3-pointers in a game is a still-standing record in the NBA. Among his long list of accomplishments, the single-game 3-point record has to rank high up.
5. Magic Johnson at Philadelphia (1988) – 32 points, 20 assists, 11 rebounds, 12-23 FG, 7-10 FT
Quite possibly Magic’s best game as a Laker came against the 76ers. Magic wasn’t always a prolific scorer, having just 42 games where he had more points than this game. Only 13 times did he dish out 20 assists and only 48 games with 11 or more rebounds. To put all that together into one magnificent game is just that: magnificent.
4. Kobe Bryant vs. Portland (2007) – 65 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 23-39 FG, 8-12 3PT, 11-12 FT
Kobe’s “prime” years were always a struggle for team success. His two greatest scoring seasons were also his two worst results as a team, which is not to say it was Kobe’s fault. In the 2007 season, the Lakers had lost 7 straight games and found themselves in a battle to stop the skid and stay in the playoff race. The result was Kobe carrying the Lakers like he had done before and would do again. With Lamar Odom and Mo Evans being the only other Lakers in double figures, this was one of Kobe’s greatest masterpieces, capped off by this insane shot.
3. Shaquille O’Neal at LA Clippers (2000) – 61 points, 23 rebounds, 24-35 FG, 13-22 FT
Shaq’s greatest game as a pro coincided with his birthday. The Lakers fed the big man early and often as he put up 35 shots in the game on his way to one of the highest individual outputs by a Laker. Shaq had everything working this game, catching lobs, dropping in his baby hook shot, grabbing offensive boards, and even throwing some lobs. Shaq talked about this game on Open Court on NBATV
2. Kobe Bryant vs. Dallas (2005) – 62 points, 8 rebounds, 18-31 FG, 22-25 FT
In my opinion, this is Kobe’s greatest game, but popular opinion sways toward a certain other game. For Kobe, his 62 points came in just 33 minutes of play over three quarters. He scored 62 points in three quarters. He outscored the Mavs 62-61. He had 30 points in the 3rd quarter alone! The Lakers led big going into the fourth and Kobe sat out, but considering he had just put up 30 points in the third, The argument that Kobe may have eclipsed his 81-point effort is a strong one.
1. Kobe Bryant vs. Toronto (2006) – 81 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 28-46 FG, 7-13 3PT, 18-20 FT
This should come as no surprise as it’s Kobe’s greatest outing. His 55 points in the 2nd half was staggering. And the Lakers needed every one of them as they trailed for a large chunk of the game. But Kobe’s huge second half ignited the team and the Lakers outscored the Raptors 73-41 in the final two quarters. Everything Kobe put up in the 2nd half seemingly went in as Kobe was red-hot. This game also produced the highest scoring duo in a game ever as Kobe and Smush Parker lit up the Raptors for 94 points.