On this date, in 2009, Kobe Bryant dropped 61 points on the New York Knicks at the Madison Square Garden.
Although Bryant only had 3 assists and 1 block to show for apart from his season-high points tally, 'the Black Mamba' scored them efficiently. He made 19 of his 31 field goal attempts (3-of-6 on 3's) and knocked down each one of his 20 free-throw attempts.
Bryant delivered this game when his team needed it the most.
The Lakers, who had won 37 of the 46 games leading up to that point, had just lost Andrew Bynum to a sprained right knee a couple of nights earlier in Memphis. The center suffered the knee injury when Bryant collided into Bynum's right knee at the end of an off-balance drive to the basket.
This was the same knee that had prematurely ended Bynum's 2007-08 campaign.
With no Bynum, the offensive burden on Bryant had increased and 'the Black Mamba' responded to the team's call.
Bryant had 27 points at halftime and he added another 15 in the final period as he helped the Lakers cruise to a 126-117 win. Pau Gasol chipped in with 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists on 12-of-17 shooting in the victory.
Bryant and the Lakers, despite being shorthanded went 6-0 in that East-heavy road trip with huge wins also coming against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics with their Big 3.
The Lakers finished the season as the top-seed in the West and went on to win the 2009 NBA Championship by defeating the Orlando Magic 4-1 in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Back then, it was the most points scored by an player (home team or opponent) at the Garden.
However, the record was broken in 2014 by Carmelo Anthony, who went one better by going off for 62 as a member of the Knicks.
Reigning MVP James Harden, only 10 days earlier, tied Bryant's record for most points scored at the Garden by an opposing player.