It remains one of the most unbelievable, iconic, amazing moments in the history of the NBA. Everyone can remember what they were doing the night Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, leading them to a 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Kobe’s outburst remains the second-highest scoring performance in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain’s legendary 100-point game. The best part was that the Lakers needed every one of those points to come up with the win.
The Lakers trailed by 14 points at halftime and 18 early in the third quarter before Kobe completely took over. He scored a ridiculous 55 points in the second half, including 23 in the final nine minutes of the game.
Also of note is how efficient Kobe was. He shot 28-for-46 (60.9 percent) from the field, 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from 3-point range, and 18-for-20 (90 percent) from the free throw line. For someone who was constantly criticized about his inefficient shooting, it surely didn’t happen on this night.
It didn’t matter who the Raptors put on Kobe, everyone was helpless. Morris Peterson? Not a chance. Mike James? Nope. Joey Graham? Please. Jalen Rose? Poor Jalen Rose is still hearing about this night 12 years later and will continue to hear about it for another 25.
Making this even more impressive is that just a month earlier Kobe posted his famous 62 points in three quarters performance against the Dallas Mavericks. With the Lakers comfortably ahead, assistant Brian Shaw asked Kobe if he wanted to stay in the game but Kobe declined.
He predicted he would have another night like that. No one could have imagined just how right Kobe was. There are great scoring nights, there are unbelievable ones, and then there was Jan. 22, 2006. We may never see someone have a night like Kobe Bryant did ever again.