Magic-al night for Bryant

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant always will savour his 81-point performance against the Raptors.

But equally memorable will be the call he received from Lakers legend Magic Johnson after the game last night at the Staples Center.

"It was more special to me than even the game itself ... talking to Magic," Bryant said. "That meant more to me than the game itself because I idolized him as a kid. For him to just call me and tell me what a great game it was and how proud of me he is meant more to me than the 81 points. That felt really, really good."

Fellow Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in New York the day Elgin Baylor set the previous franchise record of 71 points and also was in attendance last night.

"It's a pretty interesting bit of history there," he said. "I think it was a real treat."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought of pulling Bryant before assistant coach Frank Hamblen told him exactly what was transpiring.

ON SECOND THOUGHT

"I wasn't keeping track of what he had and I turned to (Hamblen) and said I think I better take him out now. It was a time when I felt the game was sealed. He said, 'I don't think you can. He has 77 points. So we stayed with it until he got 80."

Bryant took 46 shots during the game. He hit 26 of them and also drained 18 of 20 free throws.

"To sit here and say I've grasped what has happened, I'd be lying," said Bryant, who held his young daughter after the game.

Bryant was very happy to have the game occur at home.

"I feed of (the crowd), the crowd gets into it especially here in L.A." he said. "We are going from the bottom to the top all together so it is important for us to enjoy the journey and that is what we are doing right now. We are on a journey and to put on a show like this for the fans here is truly something special. I grew up in front of these people and now they are seeing me as an older, young man."


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