Jan 22, 2024, will be one of those dates where NBA fans remember great basketball. Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns broke franchise records for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Timberwolves. Where next for the men scoring above 60 points on the same night? A night steeped in NBA history, as in 2006, Kobe Bryant made a historic 81-point game.
76ers Chase Down Top Spot with Embiid
Going into Monday night, the Philadelphia 76ers knew that they needed to keep their winning streak going if they had any chance to build their momentum and catch the Boston Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference. While they’ll already know they are almost assured of a playoff basketball in April, they’ll want to get a better ranking.
No one knew Joel Embiid would provide the latest major NBA update to the 76ers’ season. He is doing everything in his power to make that playoff a reality. Seventy points in the game against the San Antonio Spurs sent the NBA community into a fever pitch with excitement, as his points actively contributed to the 133-123 victory at Wells Fargo Center. In the aftermath of the match, Embiid was informed that he had set a new franchise record for the Philadelphia 76ers with his tally from the game. That broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record by two points, which had stood since 1967!
The Cameroonian-born baller is now likened to another all-time great, Michael Jordan. He and MJ are the only two NBA players to hit 65+ points in a game, 15 rebounds, and five assists in a single match. Humbly, Embiid first remarked that he was shocked that Wilt had never accomplished this feat.
Towns Hits 62 in Losing Effort
Sometimes, putting up a fight in a losing battle can be just as heroic (and bittersweet) for a sportsperson. That’s the feeling felt by Karl-Anthony Towns as the three-time NBA All-Star made a career-high Minnesota Timberwolves franchise point record with his 62 score in the game against the Charlotte Hornets.
This record-breaking feat occurred the same night Embiid hit his 70-point tally, over 1,000 miles away. As previously stated, it wasn’t quite the same reception as Towns’ Timberwolves didn’t win the match. They succumbed to a rare and unexpected loss as the Charlotte Hornets secured their tenth win (41 games played) while the Minnesota franchise topped the Western Conference. This result has been labeled a ‘stomach churner’ by sites reporting the latest NBA news.
Therefore, the champagne for Towns’ achievement was primarily put on ice. While the Timberwolves are still at the top of the Western Conference (for now), it’s opened up the top spot for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets, who are breathing down their necks, just itching to take the lead.
A Nod to Bryant’s 81-Point Game
While history lessons should be confined to the classroom, it’s important to remember and understand why Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns scoring so many points on Jan 22 is so intriguing.
The answer is from 18 years ago. It was Sunday 22nd, January 2006, when Kobe Bryant was in his tenth year with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the team had a so-so season. They’d probably make the postseason, but it wouldn’t be a handsome first playoff game. The moment of their campaign came on this day. Spectators at the Staples Center saw Kobe Bryant make 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers won the match as Bryant created NBA history. This point haul still stands as an individual’s second-highest single-game point record. The highest record belongs to the legendary Wilt Chamberlain.
While the dates of Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kobe Bryant’s achievements are aligned, that’s just a side note. The main story for current sports news here is that these men are amongst basketball’s finest players with their abilities to score points and set franchise records.
Are Other Franchise Records in Jeopardy?
With the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves franchise records having just been broken, thoughts turn to whether more teams could see their point records eclipsed shortly.
Ja Morant made history for the Memphis Grizzlies in February 2022 by setting a new franchise record with a 52-point game. While it is a good achievement by any means, should a vibrant new point scorer move to the FedEx Forum, this record could be eclipsed sooner rather than later. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the most likely to accomplish said feat as one of the better players capable of scoring in a struggling team.
The Los Angeles Clippers, for all their investment into their contemporary roster, are still stuck on a 52-point franchise record held by two players from the 1970s. Should Joel Embiid or Karl-Anthony Towns want more pieces of NBA history, they could jump ship to Memphis or LA and potentially break those records.
Reggie Miller’s 57-point haul from 1992 against the Charlotte Hornets for the Indiana Pacers is slightly above those records. Myles Turner is starting to look like a very productive player and could one day break the record from the early 1990s. He, too, is building a legacy with the Pacers, having spent all of his career since 2015 with the franchise. Could he match the 18-year tenure that Miller played for the team?
Two records that might never be superseded are the Los Angeles Lakers record held by Kobe above Bryant with 81 and the 100-point game held by Wilt Chamberlain during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors.
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By Dean McHugh.