Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 2

On Jan. 22, 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Toronto Raptors, and it looked like it would be the usual nondescript Sunday game versus a pretty bad squad.

L.A. came out of the gate flat, trailing 36-29 at the end of the first quarter and 63-49 at halftime.

Bryant had scored 26 points in the first half, but it didn’t seem like anything too out of the ordinary, especially given he had put up at least 50 points three times over the last several weeks.

The Lakers need a jump-start in the third quarter, and he gave it to them.

All of a sudden, at some point in that period, fans noticed that he had a lot of points, even by his standards, and that he was unusually hot.

As Bryant got hotter and hotter, his team clawed its way back into the contest. At the end of the quarter, the Lakers were only down by six points, as he had exploded for 27 points in the third quarter.

All of a sudden, he was in the midst of a historic night.

He surpassed 60, then 65 and then 70 points, and when he got to 72 with 3:26 left, he had broken Elgin Baylor’s franchise record for most points in a game.

By now, L.A. had put the game out of reach, and the moment was all Bryant’s. He finished with 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting overall, 7-of-13 from 3-point range and 18-of-20 from the free throw line.

Only Wilt Chamberlain had scored more points in a single NBA contest.

Bryant scoring 81 points was one of those seminal sports moments where everyone who had experienced it in one form or another will always remember exactly where they were when it happened.

As grand as it was, it could be argued it wasn’t even Bryant’s greatest individual performance.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire