LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant, often unstoppable, played at a
higher level than even he imagined possible.
To put Kobe's superhuman Sunday into some perspective ...
NBA teams have been held below 81 points 99 times this season.
The Lakers were held below 81 four times. They lost to the Wolves 88-74 on Nov. 9. (Kobe had 28). The Lakers lost to Memphis 85-73 on Nov. 14 (Kobe scored 18). The Lakers lost to the Rockets 76-71 on Dec. 18 (Kobe went for 24). And on Jan. 3, the Jazz beat the Lakers 90-80, when Kobe served a league-mandated suspenion.
The Trail Blazers and the Rockets have been held below 81 points nine times this season.
And the world champion San Antonio Spurs were held below 81 both times they played the Pistons this year. On Christmas Day the Pistons beat the Spurs 85-70, and just last week Detroit beat San Antonio 83-68.
-- Chris Ramsay, ESPN.com
The Los Angeles Lakers' star scored a phenomenal 81 points
Sunday night -- the second-highest total in NBA history -- in a
122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Only Wilt Chamberlain's storied 100-point game nearly 44 years
ago ranks higher.
"Not even in my dreams," Bryant said. "That was something
that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those
"It really hasn't, like, set in for me. It's about the `W,'
that's why I turned it on. It turned into something special. To sit
here and say I grasp what happened, that would be lying."
The Lakers trailed by as many as 18 points early in the third
quarter, angering Bryant.
"He was ticked off," teammate Lamar Odom said.
When asked what Bryant said at that stage, Odom replied:
"Nothing. That's when it's bad."
Bryant scored 51 points after the Raptors extended a 63-49
halftime lead to 71-53. The Lakers outscored the Raptors 38-14 to
finish the third quarter to go ahead for good.
"That was incredible, remarkable," Odom said.
Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer, left to a standing ovation
with 4.2 seconds remaining, having shot 28-of-46 from the floor,
including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and 18-of-20 from the foul
With the 18,997 fans at Staples Center chanting "MVP! MVP!"
Bryant made two free throws with 43.4 seconds remaining for his
final points. He scored 27 points in the third quarter, 28 in the
"We are on a journey, and to put on a show like this for the
fans here in L.A. is truly something special," Bryant said. "I
grew up in front of these people, and now they are seeing me as an
older, young man."
The 27-year-old Bryant joined the Lakers out of high school, and
is in his 10th NBA season.
Chamberlain scored 100 points for Philadelphia against the New York Knicks at Hershey, Pa., on March 2, 1962, shooting 36-of-63 from the field and 28-of-32 from the foul line while playing all 48 minutes.
Chamberlain had 59 points in the second half -- the only player
with more points in a half than Bryant's 55 after halftime in this
Chamberlain's second-highest total was 78 against the Lakers in
three overtimes on Dec. 8, 1961.
Michael Jordan's career high was 69 points, and only four
players had ever scored more than 70 -- Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor,
David Thompson and David Robinson.
100 -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. New York at Hershey,
Pa., March 2, 1962.
81 -- Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers vs. Toronto, Jan. 22, 2006.
78 -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. L.A. Lakers, Dec. 8,
1961 (3 OT).
73 -- David Thompson, Denver at Detroit, April 9, 1978.
73 -- Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco at New York, Nov. 16, 1962.
73 -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. Chicago, Jan. 13, 1962.
72 -- Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco at L.A. Lakers, Nov. 3,
71 -- David Robinson, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, April 24,
71 -- Elgin Baylor, L.A. Lakers at New York, Nov. 15, 1960.
70 -- Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco vs. Syracuse, March 10,
Bryant made it five. His previous career high was 62 points
during a 112-90 victory over Dallas last month -- he sat out the
fourth quarter because of the one-sided nature of the game.
"I was just determined. I was just locked in, tuned into what
was going on out there," Bryant said. "These points tonight
mattered. We needed them. The points I put in the basket were
instrumental. It means a lot more."
Bryant raised his scoring average to an NBA-leading 35.9 points
"I never imagined I would see history like that," said Devean
George, a teammate of Bryant's with the Lakers for 6½ seasons. "I
can't tell you where that came from. He just kept attacking,
attacking, attacking -- every time he got the ball."
Bryant played nearly 42 minutes, going the entire second half
until being lifted by coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson coached Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to six
championships in the 1990s and the Lakers, with Bryant and
Shaquille O'Neal, to three more titles, from 2000-02.
"That was something to behold," Jackson said. "It was another
level. I've seen some remarkable games, but I've never seen one
like that before."
Baylor held the Lakers' previous franchise record of 71 points
at New York on Nov. 15, 1960. Lakers special assistant Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, saw that game,
"Elgin's game was an incredible performance, also,"
Abdul-Jabbar said. "I don't think there's any comparison. Elgin
did it without 3-point lines. His game was attacking the hoop and
hitting jumpers inside 20 feet. Kobe's range is unreal, and he does
it his way.
"It was a real treat. His ability to shoot from long range and
also attack the hoop, split the defense and get in close for
opportunities near the basket is unique. He's made a niche for
himself, and he deserves it."
Bryant scored all but 15 of his team's 42 points in the third
quarter, and all but three of their 31 in the final period.
"You're sitting and watching, and it's like a miracle unfolding
in front of your eyes and you can't accept it," Lakers owner Jerry
Buss said. "Somehow, the brain won't work. The easiest way to look
at it is everybody remembers every 50-point game they ever saw. He
had 55 in the second half."
Bryant scored a season-low 11 points in the Lakers' 102-91
victory over the Raptors in Toronto last month. He has led the
Lakers in scoring in the last 21 games in which he's played, and is
averaging 45.5 points in 10 games since sitting out a two-game
"We were just watching him shoot," Toronto's Chris Bosh said.
"He takes the type of shots where you don't think they're going
in, but suddenly he's rolling, so he's kind of hard to stop. We
tried three or four guys on him, but it seemed like nobody guarded
Bryant scored a season-low 11 points in the Lakers' 102-91
victory over the Raptors in Toronto last month. He had 14 in the
first quarter of this game. ... Bryant has led the Lakers in
scoring in the last 21 games in which he's played. He is averaging
45.5 points in 10 games since sitting out a two-game suspension.
... Toronto C Rafael Araujo, who has made 30 starts this season,
missed his second straight game and third of the season because of
a sore right shoulder. ... Bryant made his first five foul shots
before missing late in the second quarter, snapping his streak of
consecutive made free throws at 62. Michael Williams made an
NBA-record 93 straight for Minnesota in 1993. ... Bryant received a
technical foul with 10:44 left -- shortly after being accidentally
struck above the right eye.
- Bill Spooner
- Bill Kennedy
- Kevin Fehr