Where Kobe Bryant found motivation for 62-point outburst 10 years ago

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kobe Bryant considers his 81-point game in 2006 to be the masterpiece performance of his 20-season NBA career.

That game is, of course, worthy of such distinction, as it marked the second-highest scoring effort in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.

But an equally impressive outburst by Bryant -- if not more impressive, in some ways -- came on Dec. 20, 2005, when the Los Angeles Lakers star scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks.

When Bryant left the game, in fact, he had outscored the Mavericks by himself (62-61), and he didn’t play the rest of the game.

With Bryant’s final game against the Mavericks coming Tuesday at Staples Center, the 37-year-old recalled that game and what led to his scoring surge.

“Del Harris,” Bryant said with a smile following his team’s 121-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday at Moda Center.

Bryant was referring to the Mavericks’ assistant coach at the time who was also the coach of the Lakers when Bryant was a rookie.

“Listen, when I was a rookie, I hated Del,” Bryant said. “He drove me crazy. I’ve always said, if we get a chance to get revenge, I’m going to get it.”

Bryant came off the bench his first two seasons under Harris, playing 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie and then 26.0 the season after.

“With that being said, [Harris] pushed me back then to try to be as efficient as possible to get some minutes on the floor,” Bryant continued. “I had to earn everything I got, which I’m very appreciative of now, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t part of the motivation.”

In nearly 33 minutes against the Mavericks, Bryant made 18 of 31 field goals, including 4-of-10 from beyond the arc.

He also made 22-of-25 from the free-throw line and added eight rebounds and three steals.

He scored 15 points in the first quarter, 17 in the second and a franchise-record 30 in the third, after which the Lakers led 95-61.

The Lakers won by a final score of 112-90.

Bryant also noted that between his 81-point game and his 62-points-in-three-quarters game, the former was more difficult to achieve.

“Because my knee was killing me,” Bryant said. “The 62-[point] game, I felt fantastic.”