The top 5: Best offensive games against the Knicks

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Knicks play the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night, which automatically conjures up thoughts of Pete Maravich. Ok, maybe not "automatically," but the creative basketball genius had his most productive NBA scoring night ever against the Knicks, back in 1977, when he poured in 68 points while playing for the old New Orleans Jazz. Where does that rank on the list of most points ever scored against the Knicks by one player in a single game? Well, here's the Top 5. As a footnote, none of the guys on the following list had the three-point line to help them boost their point total. Bernard King, of course, holds the Knicks' single-game scoring mark, with 60, against the New Jersey Nets on Christmas day of 1984.

5. Wilt Chamberlain, 67 Points: The Big Dipper scored 67 points against the Knicks on two separate occasions. The first time came on March 9, 1961, with his Philadelphia Warriors defeating the Knicks, 135-126. Chamberlain went 27-for-37 from the field and 13-for-17 from the free-throw line (which was head-and-shoulders above his 51% career free-throw percentage). He averaged 38.5 points per game that season with 27.2 rebounds, leading the league in both categories. The second time he poured in 67 vs. New York occurred on Feb. 25, 1962, though his team lost to the Knicks, 149-135. Chamberlain made 25 of 38 shots, while playing 48 minutes in the game, and made 17 of 22 free throws. He averaged an all-time record 50.4 points per game that year, with a league-leading 25.7 rebounds.

4. Pete Maravich, 68 Points: After four years with the Atlanta Hawks, the LSU legend moved over to the expansion New Orleans Jazz to become the marquee attraction in their first season of existence, 1974-'75. In his third year with the team, on Feb. 25, 1977, Maravich pumped in 68 points in a 124-107 victory against the Knicks at the Louisiana Superdome. Playing 43 minutes, Pistol Pete made buckets from all over the floor (and on a few occasions with his back to the basket), on 26-for-43 shooting and going 16-for-19 from the line. He was consistently great throughout the game, scoring 17 points in the first quarter, 14 in the second, 17 in the third and 20 in the fourth. He fouled out with 1:18 left, foiling his chances for a 70-point game. Maravich had scored 38 points in the previous game and 40 in the following contest, giving him 146 points in three consecutive games. (Bob McAdoo led the Knicks that night, by the way, with 28 points). Maravich scored 50 or more points five other times in his career, doing it twice in that same '76-'77 season, once against the Kansas City Kings and the other time vs. the Phoenix Suns. He led the league in scoring that year, with a 31.1 points-per-game average. After five years with New Orleans, he moved with the franchise to Utah, but after half a season was picked up by the Boston Celtics, where he finished his injury-shortened career that year. He was a five-time All-Star and elected to the Hall of Fame, with a 24.2 career average (while also being one of the best passers and ball handlers), and was arguably the greatest player in college history, being the NCAA's Division I all-time leading scorer (3,667 points), averaging over 40 points a game each season. Maravich tragically died all too young, at the age of 40.

3. Elgin Baylor, 71 Points: After the NBA's first big superstar, George Mikan, retired, the Minneapolis Lakers were heading toward financial ruin and extinction, but Baylor saved the franchise when he arrived in 1958, and he became the league's blueprint for the athletic, aerial showman, a precursor to Julius Erving and Michael Jordan. On Nov. 15, 1960, Baylor broke his own single-game scoring record, when he scored 71 points against the Knicks (but, unfortunately, it wouldn't last long, as Chamberlain would top that output five times over the next two years). The Lakers won, 123-108, with Baylor going 28-for-48 from the floor and 15-for-18 from the line, while also hauling in 25 rebounds. He averaged 34.8 points per game that season, which was the first of three consecutive years averaging more than 30 points a game. The Hall of Famer had four 60-plus games in his career, and finished with a 27.4 career average. The LA Lakers finally won an NBA championship in 1972, but it came months after Baylor retired. He was coincidentally at Maravich's 68-point game, as he was the head coach of the Jazz that season.

2. Wilt Chamberlain, 73 Points: Wilt the Stilt had 32 games of 60 points or more, so of course he would hold three of the spots on this list. On Nov. 16, 1962, in a 127-111 San Francisco Warriors win over the Knicks, Chamberlain again played 48 minutes, while making 29 of 43 shots and going 15-for-19 from the free-throw line (while making 14 consecutive foul shots at one point). His 73 points in this game are tied (with himself) for the fourth best scoring game ever. He also did it two months later against the Chicago Packers (now the Washington Wizards). Wilt averaged 44.8 points per game that year and pulled down 24.3 rebounds. He led the NBA in scoring his first six years (and once more in his ninth season) and in rebounding his first four and then last seven out of eight seasons.

1. Wilt Chamberlain, 100 Points: Chamberlain reached the century mark playing against the Knicks on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and it seems more like a myth than reality. But, yes, it really happened. The Knicks fell to the Philadelphia Warriors, 169-147, and, not too surprisingly, Chamberlain played 48 minutes. He attempted an astounding 63 shots (making 36 of them), and added 28 free throws (in 32 attempts). His scoring by the quarter -- 23, 18, 28, 31 -- were four solid games in and of themselves. Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points per game and 22.9 rebounds in his 14-year career, with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and the Lakers. His NBA years were bookended by a season playing for the Harlem Globetrotters and a year as head coach of the ABA's San Diego Conquistadors.

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