On this date in 2006, Kobe Bryant erupted for a Los Angeles Lakers franchise record of 81 points in an 18-point comeback win over the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center.
Along with his career-high figures, Kobe also recorded six rebounds, three steals and two assists. He dropped his points tally on an efficient 60.9 percent shooting from the field (28-of-46), 53.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line (7-of-13) while knocking down 18 of his 20 attempts from the charity stripe.
Quite a few of Kobe's 30-plus point scoring nights in the seasons prior came in a losing effort but not on this day - though the Lakers did find themselves in trouble in the second half.
In the third quarter, the Lakers actually trailed by as many as 18 points. That's when the Black Mamba decided to take over. He scored 55 points in the second half, 27 of which came in the third period, helping the young Lakers lead by two points before the final quarter began.
He eventually checked out of the game with 43.4 seconds left to roaring chants of "MVP, MVP!"
"I was just determined. I was just locked in, tuned into what was going on out there," Bryant said. "These points tonight mattered. We needed them. The points I put in the basket were instrumental. It means a lot more."
Other than the obvious points milestone that Bryant reached in this game, the night was special for another reason as well. Not only was it his late grandfather's birthday, but it was also the first and only NBA game of his career that his grandmother had seen him play live.
Bryant finished the season with an average of 35.4 points per game (a career-high) at 45.0 percent shooting, leading the Lakers to a 45-37 record and a first-round appearance in the 2006 Playoffs.
At the end of his career, this 81-point game was one of his 25 games where Kobe finished with a points tally of 50 or more.