Bryant simply awesome

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- The Raptors had a front-row seat here in Hollywood for an Oscar-calibre performance by Tinseltown's most famous athlete.

There are no adjectives strong enough to describe Kobe Bryant's greatest night. So we'll just give you the number: 81 points.

Bryant scored the second-most points in a game in NBA history as the Lakers beat Toronto 122-104 here at the Staples Center. The record is 100 by Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain's 78, in three overtimes, was the previous second-best.

"I couldn't even dream of this as a kid," the NBA scoring leader told the crowd after the game.

Later he said, "This was just something that happened. It is tough to explain. It is just one of those things."

It also was Bryant's career-high, a Raptors opponent-high and a Lakers record.

Bryant's previous high was 62, accomplished in just three quarters of work earlier this season against the Dallas Mavericks. The previous best by a Laker was 71 by Elgin Baylor. The previous best for a Raptors opponent was 56 by Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James earlier this season.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson took Bryant out with 4.2 seconds left and he raised his arm and pointed to the crowd, which went nuts. Cameras flashed all over the arena and chants of "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe," were loud and proud.

"That was something to behold," Jackson said. "It was another level ... Kobe just found a way to do everything.

"I've seen some remarkable games, but I've never seen anything like that before.

Kobe outscored the Raptors 27-22 in the third quarter as the Raptors hacked away an 18-point lead from early in the first half. Bryant's 27 was a Raptors opponent record for points in a quarter. It was the biggest comeback victory for a Raptors opponent this season.

"Wow. Kobe's an amazing player," Raptors swingman Jalen Rose said. "I just give him credit. That's the second-highest points scored in NBA history. You hate to be on the negative side of history, but you've got to give credit where credit is due. He put it down on us, he really put it down on us.

"It's going to be talked about viewed, analyzed, overanalyzed for a long time. Unfortunately, for us we're going to be on the wrong side of the analysis."

About the only thing Kobe didn't do was continue his amazing free-throw streak, which stopped at 62 consecutive makes earlier in the game.

The Raptors are 1-3 on their West Coast swing, which concludes tonight in Denver against the rolling Nuggets.

The Raptors led 63-49 at halftime and then watched Bryant take over.

"There's really nothing you can say about it," Raptors swingman Morris Peterson said. "He hit some great shot, two or three pump-fakes, fallaways ... I won't forget this game."

Neither will anybody.


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