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Monday, January 23, 2006

Kobe Bryant Super Record: 81 Points

Kobe Bryant, usually unstoppable, this time was more than that. The Los Angeles Lakers' star made a phenomenal 81 points Sunday night _ the second-highest total in NBA history _ in a 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Just Wilt Chamberlain's storied 100-point match nearly 44 years ago ranks higher. "Not even in my dreams," Bryant noticed. "That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things.

"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."

Actually, the Lakers trailed by as many as 18 points early in the third quarter, angering Bryant. "He was ticked off," teammate Lamar Odom noticed. When asked what Bryant noticed at that stage, Odom replied: "Nothing. That's when it's bad."

Bryant made 51 points after the Raptors extended a 63-49 halftime lead to 71-53. The Lakers outmade the Raptors 38-14 to finish the third quarter to go ahead for good.

"That was amazing, remarkable," Odom noticed.
It’s good to know that 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 line.

With the 18,997 supporters at Staples Center chanting "MVP! MVP!" Bryant made two free throws with 43.4 seconds remaining for his final points. He made 27 points in the third quarter, 28 in the fourth.

"We are on a journey, and to put on a show like this for the supporters here in L.A. is truly something special," Bryant noticed. "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 made 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.

In addition, Chamberlain had 59 points in the second half _ the just player with more points in a half than Bryant's 55 after halftime in this match.

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 just four players had ever made more than 70 _ Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson.

Bryant made it five. His previous career record was 62 points during a 112-90 victory over Dallas. "I was just determined. I was just locked in, tuned into what was going on out there," Bryant noticed. "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 this season.

"I never imagined I would see history like that," noticed Devean George, a teammate of Bryant's with the Lakers for 6 1/2 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.
We also know that 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 noticed. "It was another level. I've seen some remarkable matchs, 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 match, too.

"Elgin's match was an amazing performance, also," Abdul-Jabbar noticed. "I don't think there's any comparison. Elgin did it without 3-point lines. His match 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 skill 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 made 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 noticed. "Somehow, the brain won't work. The easiest way to look at it is everybody remembers every 50-point match they ever saw. He had 55 in the second half."

Bryant made 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 matchs in which he's played, and is averaging 45.5 points in 10 matchs since sitting out a two-match suspension. "We were just watching him shoot," Toronto's Chris Bosh noticed. "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 him tonight."