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Friday, November 17, 2006

LAkers vs. Raptors: Bryant wants to make history again

There's an important game ahead, and we must remember that the last time the Toronto Raptors played against the Lakers, Kobe Bryant made history.

Maybe tha t's why fans are eager to see another sensational performance from Bryant when they host the Raptors on Friday.

In fact, the reigning league scoring champion, Bryant delivered an unforgettable performance in Los Angeles' 122-104 win over Toronto here on January 22, scoring a mind-boggling 81 points - the second-highest total in NBA history.

It was the NBA's best individual offensive performance aside from Chamberlain's landmark 100-point game against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. Kobe Bryant finished 28-of-46 from the floor and 18-of-20 from the line, joining Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson as the only players to reach the 70-point plateau.

And after scoring 26 points in the first half, Bryant exploded for 55 after the break - four shy of Chamberlain's record for points in a half. He outscored the Raptors by 14 points after halftime.

Despita those facts, Bryant has struggled to rediscover last season's explosiveness after undergoing offseason knee surgery. Despite shooting nearly 52 percent from the floor this season, he is averaging just 21.2 points over his first six matches.

And after dropping two straight, the Lakers bounced back with a 91-81 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

It0s good to know that Bryant scored 21 points while Lamar Odom added 20 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which limited Memphis to just 38 percent (28-of-73) shooting.

The Toronto Raptors, who are just 4-16 all-time against the Lakers, aim to snap a three-game skid.