Thursday, December 6, 2012

FLASHBACK: Kobe Bryant's 81-Point Game

Kobe's 81-point game second only to Wilt

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant, often unstoppable, played at a higher level than even he imagined possible.

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 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."

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 line.

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 fourth.

"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 game.

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.

NBA single-game scorers
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, 1962.
71 -- David Robinson, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, April 24, 1994.
71 -- Elgin Baylor, L.A. Lakers at New York, Nov. 15, 1960.
70 -- Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco vs. Syracuse, March 10, 1963.

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 this season.

"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, too.

"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 suspension.

"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 him tonight." —

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