81! Kobe carries Lakers past Raptors with historical performance
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – In one of the most amazing individual
performances in NBA history, Kobe Bryant delivered an eye-popping 81 points to
lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 122-104 victory over Toronto at the Staples
Bryant made 28-of-46 field-goal attempts, including 7-of-13 from beyond the
three-point line, and drained 18-of-20 free throw tries to record the second-
highest single-game point total the league has ever seen, trailing only Hall
of Famer Wilt Chamberlain’s memorable 100-point outing with the Philadelphia
Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962.
“That was something to behold,” remarked Lakers head coach Phil Jackson of
Bryant’s superlative game. “That was at another level. I’ve seen some
remarkable things before, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Fifty-five of Bryant’s points came in the second half as he single-handedly
carried the Lakers back from a 14-point deficit at intermission and halted
LA’s two-game slide.
“It just happened,” said Bryant. “It’s tough to explain. I would have been
sick as a dog if we would have lost this game.”
Mike James recorded 26 points and 10 assists for the Raptors, who have dropped
three of four on their current five-game road trip. Chris Bosh and Jalen Rose
netted 18 and 17 points, respectively, in the loss.
Toronto held a commanding 63-49 halftime lead until Bryant took over. The All-
Star guard knocked down eight straight shots during a six-minute span in the
third quarter, including a three-point play midway through the period that cut
the Lakers’ deficit to 77-68. A minute later, Bryant buried a three-pointer to
start a 6-0 run capped by Chris Mihm’s layup with 4:05 left in the quarter
that brought Los Angeles within 78-77.
The Raptors regrouped and went up 85-79 after Joey Graham’s long-distance
bucket late in the third quarter. However, the Lakers scored the final 12
points of the frame and took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter after
Bryant threw down a dunk off a Lamar Odom feed in the closing seconds.
Toronto closed within 97-93 with under 7 1/2 minutes to play, but Odom sunk a
three-pointer and Bryant hit a short jumper to ignite a 16-3 spurt that put
the game out of reach.
Bryant broke Elgin Baylor’s 45-year-old franchise record of 71 points after
making a 15-footer that put Los Angeles up 113-96 with 4:24 left, but didn’t
He hit a short runner with 3:26 remaining for his 73rd and 74th points, then
capped his amazing night by making seven free throws down the stretch. Bryant
scored the Lakers’ final 22 points of the game.
“When the game was in hand I tried to take him out,” said Jackson. “But my
assistant Frank Hamblen said, ‘I don’t think you can do that. He’s got 77
Toronto opened up a 36-29 advantage after one quarter and extended the margin
with a strong second. The Raptors outscored LA 10-3 to begin the session and
built a 14-point cushion after Bosh made two foul shots with six minutes left
in the half.
Baylor set the previous franchise mark on November 15, 1960 at New York’s
Madison Square Garden…Bryant’s previous career-best of 62 points was set on
December 20 in a win over Dallas…Odom finished with 13 points and Mihm added
12 for Los Angeles…Los Angeles has won eight of the last nine meetings
between the clubs, including a 102-91 decision at the Air Canada Centre on
December 7…Toronto has dropped four in a row in Los Angeles.