Jan. 22, 2006
27 years, 152 days
It was, quite simply, the greatest scoring effort of the last half-century.
Kobe Bryant erupted for a legendary 81-point night against Toronto — a feat which no player has come close to repeating and only Wilt Chamberlain had done beforehand when he hit the century mark in 1962.
“It really hasn’t set in for me,” Bryant told the media. “It’s about the ‘W.’ That’s why I turned it on. I turned into something special. To sit here and say I grasp what happened, that would be lying.”
Bryant shot 28-of-46 from the field, 7-of-13 on 3-pointers and 18-of-20 at the free throw line just one month after the Raptors had held him to a season-low 11 points.
The Lakers actually trailed by 18 in the third quarter, but Bryant poured in 27 points in that period and 28 in the following one. The remaining Lakers combined for 18 in the second half, while Bryant carried the purple and gold to a 122-104 victory.
“That was something to behold,” head coach Phil Jackson said. “It was another level. I’ve seen some remarkable games, but I’ve never seen one like that before.”
Bryant played 42 minutes, including the entire second half before being pulled in the final seconds in order to receive a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.
No other Laker finished with more than 13 points, while Bryant somehow managed to also collect six rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block while piecing together the second-greatest scoring performance in NBA history.
“You’re sitting and watching, and it’s like a miracle unfolding in front of your eyes and you can’t accept it,” owner Jerry Buss said. “Somehow, the brain won’t work.”
Kobe performances on this day in history: