Kobe Bryant scores 81
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 22 (Ticker) -- Often compared to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant entered the rarefied realm of Wilt Chamberlain.
Bryant scored a mind-boggling 81 points - the second-highest total in NBA history - as the Los Angeles Lakers posted a 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
It was the NBA's greatest individual offensive performance aside from Chamberlain's landmark 100-point game against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. That figure once was considered unapproachable, but Bryant is raising the possibility.
TOP SINGLE-GAME SCORERS
1. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. March 2, 1962 vs. N.Y. 100
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A.L. Jan. 22, 2006 vs. TOR 81
3. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. Dec. 8, 1961 (3OT) vs. L.A.L. 78
4. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. Jan. 13, 1962 vs. Chi. 73
Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. Nov. 16, 1962 vs. N.Y. 73
David Thompson, Den. April 9, 1978 vs. Det. 73
7. Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. Nov. 3, 1962 vs. L.A.L. 72
8. Elgin Baylor, L.A.L. Nov. 15, 1960 vs. N.Y. 71
9. David Robinson, S.A. April 24, 1994 vs. L.A.C. 71
10. Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. March 10, 1963 vs. Syr. 70
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.
Bryant made 28-of-46 shots - including 7-of-13 3-pointers - and 18-of-20 free throws. He shattered his previous career high of 62 points set vs. Dallas in just three quarters on December 20.
With just under five minutes remaining and the Lakers leading, 108-96, Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer to join Chamberlain, former Laker Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson in the 70-point club - a threshold Jordan never reached.
Bryant drilled a short jumper on the ensuing possession to break Baylor's club record of 71 points against the Knicks on November 15, 1960.
After making a layup with 3:26 remaining to reach 74 points, Bryant scored his last seven from the free-throw line. He sank a pair of free throws with 43 seconds left to complete his magical performance and exited to a huge ovation with 4.2 seconds to go.
Smush Parker added 13 points and Lamar Odom added 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who have won seven of their last 10.
Mike James scored 26 points for Toronto, who led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.