By Darren Misener
Jan. 22 -- This time he played all four quarters.
A month after tallying 62 points in just three quarters, Kobe Bryant put his name No. 2 on the all-time NBA single-game scoring list by dropping a ridiculous 81 points on the Raptors Sunday night, in a 122-104 Lakers win. Not Since Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points over 40 years ago has the NBA seen a performance like this. Chamberlain scored 100 for Philadelphia against the New York Knicks at Hershey, Pa., on March 2, 1962. Now Kobe's name resides second with 81 on Jan. 22, 2006 in Los Angeles.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Bryant said after the game. "We had four days off coming up and I would have been sick as a dog if we lost. It turned into something very special."
Special doesn't do it justice. Bryant drilled 28 shots from the field, including seven from three-point land and went 18-20 from the charity stripe. There are few words to describe that kind of line. The man himself had a tough time grasping it.
"I couldn't even dream of this when I was a kid, not even in my dreams." Bryant said. "It's tough to explain, it just happened man."
Kobe scored 55 points in second half alone. That's more than anyone other than Kobe has scored in the NBA this season -- for an entire game. The 55 was also just four shy of Chamberlain's record for points in a half.
Kobe obliterated the Lakers all-time scoring record -- 71 set by Elgin Baylor in 1960. Only four players in NBA history had even scored over 70 points in a game, and none of those are named Michael Jordan. Chamberlain, Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson were the only people to crack 70 until now -- you can add KB to that list.
After the game Lakers great Magic Johnson gave Bryant a call to congratulate him on the performance, a gesture that will leave a lasting effect.
"Talking to Magic after the game meant more to me than the 81 points," Bryant said. "Him calling me after the game meant more than the points."
STAPLES Center was electric with chants of MVP for Bryant as he drilled his 80th and 81st points from the free throw line, points that put his name second on this list.
If Kobe keeps playing like this, the MVP could indeed be in his future.