NBA Stats

Mar 25 2013 3:46PM

A Closer Look at the Lakers' Win Streak

As the Miami Heat continue to chase the NBA record for consecutive wins, let's take a closer look at the game-by-game results for the Los Angeles Lakers during their 33-game win streak during the 1971-72 season.

Win #DateOpponentScorePoint DiffLeading LA ScorerBox Score
1Nov 5, 1971vs Baltimore110-1064Gail Goodrich (31)Box Score
2Nov 6, 1971at Golden State105-8916Jerry West (28)Box Score
3Nov 7, 1971vs New York103-967Jerry West (29)Box Score
4Nov 9, 1971at Chicago122-10913Jim McMillian (28)Box Score
5Nov 10, 1971at Philadelphia143-10340Gail Goodrich (34)Box Score
6Nov 12, 1971vs Seattle115-1078Jerry West (28)Box Score
7Nov 13, 1971at Portland130-10822Leroy Ellis (27)Box Score
8Nov 14, 1971vs Boston128-11513Gail Goodrich (26)Box Score
9Nov 16, 1971vs Cleveland108-9018Jerry West (25)Box Score
10Nov 19, 1971vs Houston106-997Gail Goodrich (32)Box Score
11Nov 21, 1971vs Milwaukee112-1057Gail Goodrich (27)Box Score
12Nov 25, 1971at Seattle139-11524Jerry West (26)Box Score
13Nov 26, 1971vs Detroit132-11319Wilt Chamberlain (31)Box Score
14Nov 28, 1971vs Seattle138-12117Jerry West (25)Box Score
15Dec 1, 1971at Boston124-11113Jerry West (45)Box Score
16Dec 3, 1971at Philadelphia131-11615Jim McMillian (41)Box Score
17Dec 5, 1971vs Portland123-10716West / Hairston (20)Box Score
18Dec 8, 1971at Houston125-1205Gail Goodrich (42)Box Score
19Dec 9, 1971vs Golden State124-11113Jerry West (38)Box Score
20Dec 10, 1971vs Phoenix126-117 (OT)9Gail Goodrich (32)Box Score
21Dec 12, 1971vs Atlanta104-959Gail Goodrich (32)Box Score
22Dec 14, 1971at Portland129-11415Goodrich / Chamberlain (24)Box Score
23Dec 17, 1971vs Golden State129-9930Gail Goodrich (25)Box Score
24Dec 18, 1971at Phoenix132-10626Gail Goodrich (28)Box Score
25Dec 19, 1971vs Philadelphia154-13222Wilt Chamberlain (32)Box Score
26Dec 21, 1971at Buffalo117-10314Jerry West (33)Box Score
27Dec 22, 1971at Baltimore127-1207Jerry West (37)Box Score
28Dec 26, 1971vs Houston137-11522Jerry West (34)Box Score
29Dec 28, 1971vs Buffalo105-8718Jerry West (24)Box Score
30Dec 30, 1971at Seattle122-10616Jim McMillian (34)Box Score
31Jan 2, 1972vs Boston122-1139Gail Goodrich (40)Box Score
32Jan 5, 1972at Cleveland113-10310Jim McMillian (29)Box Score
33Jan 7, 1972at Atlanta134-9044Jim McMillian (26)Box Score

Totals4069-3541528

Averages123.3-107.316.0
Purple: Games that are part of a back-to-back-to-back
Yellow: Games that are part of a back-to-back

One of the first things that jumps off the page when looking at the Lakers' run is the scoring. The Lakers averaged 123.3 points per game during their streak, never scored below 100 points and eclipsed the 140-point plateau twice, and the 150-point mark once, in a 154-132 win over Philadelphia.

Lakers Points Scored

RangeNumber of Games
Under 1000 games
100-1096 games (105, 104, 106, 108, 103, 105)
110-1195 games (113, 117, 112, 115, 110)
120-12912 games (122, 122, 127, 129, 129, 126, 124, 125, 123, 124, 128, 122)
130-1398 games (134, 137, 132, 131, 138, 132, 139, 130)
140-1491 game (143)
150+1 game (154)

While the Lakers were lighting up the scoreboard, so were their opponents -- to a degree -- as the Lakers surrendered an average of 107.3 points per game. They held eight opponents under 100 points, but most of their games had both teams scoring in triple digits. The majority of these games were not close, as the Lakers' average margin of victory of 16 points emphasizes. A closer look shows that just 10 games were decided by single digits, with only three by six points or less or in overtime. The Lakers won 15 games during their streak by 10-19 points, five more by 20-29 points, one by 30 points and two by 40+ points.

Point Differential Breakdown

RangeNumber of Games
1--52 games (won by 5, 4)
6--98 games (won by 9, 7, 9, 9, 7, 7, 8, 7)
10--158 games (won by 10, 14, 15, 13, 15, 13, 13, 13)
16--197 games (won by 16, 18, 16, 17, 19, 18, 16)
20--295 games (won by 22, 22, 26, 24, 22)
30--391 game (won by 30)
40+2 games (won by 40, 44)

The Heat on the other hand have been in some tight games during their current 24-game winning streak, including their last two games, which were decided by a total of five points and saw Miami overcome deficits of 17 and 27 against the Celtics and Cavaliers, respectively.

"They played some close games this year," said Lakers legend Jerry West during a recent conference call with the media, "but our games really weren't close."

West has been busy over the past few days, talking about the Heat's chances of matching or breaking the record streak set by his Lakers squad 41 years ago. During the Lakers run, West led the Lakers in scoring a team-high 12 times, followed closely by Gail Goodrich in 11 games, Jim McMillian in five games, Wilt Chamberlain in two games, Leroy Ellis in one game and two games featuring ties.

This is a much higher distribution than we are seeing with the Heat during this current streak, which has had LeBron James lead the team in scoring 16 times, followed by Dwyane Wade in five games, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers each with a single game and one game tied between James and Bosh.

Leading The Team In Scoring

Player# of Games as Leading Scorer
Jerry West12 games
Gail Goodrich11 games
Jim McMillian5 games
Wilt Chamberlain2 games
Leroy Ellis1 game
Tie: West / Hairston1 game
Tie: Goodrich / Chamberlain1 game

While West led the team in scoring a dozen times during the streak, he was not the leading scorer for the Lakers during this run. That honor goes to Goodrich, who averaged 26.8 points over the 33-game streak, just edging out West at 25.8. The Lakers had six players average 10 points or more during the streak and three average over 20 points.

Scoring Leaders By Average

PlayerGamesPointsAverage
Gail Goodrich3388526.8
Jerry West3385325.8
Jim McMillian3162420.1
Happy Hairston3345013.6
Wilt Chamberlain3341112.5
Flynn Robinson3335410.7

The NBA had only 17 teams at the time of the Lakers' streak and during the streak Los Angeles faced 15 different opponents. The only team to escape the wrath of the streak was the Cincinnati Royals, who the Lakers beat 119-107 just a week before the streak began. The most victimized team during the streak was the Seattle SuperSonics, who met the Lakers four times in a 49-day period (Nov. 12-Dec. 30).

Who They Beat

# of WinsOpponent
4 Wins VsSeattle
3 Wins VsBoston, Golden State, Houston, Philadelphia, Portland
2 Wins VsAtlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Phoenix
1 Win VsChicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York

The Sonics finished the 1971-72 season with a record of 47-35 (1-5 vs the Lakers), which placed them sixth in the Western Conference. Back then, only four teams per conference advanced to the playoffs, so Seattle and Phoenix (49-33) were left out of the playoffs despite having records would have easily qualified them for the playoffs in the East. The top two teams in the Central Division -- the Baltimore Bullets (38-44) and the Atlanta Hawks (36-46) -- both made the playoffs in the East with sub-.500 records. During the streak, the Lakers played 18 games against opponents from the West and 15 from the East.

Oppoent Info

Cum. opp. W% at time* 0.461
Cum. opp. W% at end**0.477
.500+ opp. at time*17
.500+ opp. at end**15
* Based on opponent record at the time of the game
** Based on opponent record at the end of the '71-72 season

The Lakers won 33 straight games in the span of 64 days (Nov. 5, 1971-Jan 7, 1972) as their schedule included three back-to-backs (playing on two consecutive nights) and four back-to-back-to-backs (playing on three consecutive nights). The worst part of the schedule came at the beginning for the Lakers, who opened with a back-to-back-to-back, had a day off to travel, played a back-to-back, had a day off to travel and then played another back-to-back-to-back. That's eight games in 10 days.

Let's compare that to this year's Heat run. On Friday, March 22, the Heat will attempt to win their 25th straight game 48 days after the streak began on Feb. 3 -- a slightly slower pace than what the Lakers had to endure early in their run as the Lakers went for their 25th win 45 days after their streak began. However, Miami has not had to play in a back-to-back-to-back all season -- only one team (Indiana) has had to endure a back-to-back-to-back this season. The Heat have played in six back-to-backs during their streak and have two more on the horizon as they attempt to catch the Lakers' mark on April 6, which would be 63 days after their streak began.

Wear and Tear

Back-to-Backs
DatesGames
Nov 9-10Games 4, 5
Nov 25-26Games 12,13
Dec 21-22Games 26, 27

Back-to-Back-to-Backs
DatesGames
Nov 5-7Games 1, 2, 3
Nov 12-14Games 6, 7, 8
Dec 8-10Games 18, 19, 20
Dec 17-19Games 23, 24, 25