Kobe Bryant and his 81-point game

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In this, his final year in the NBA as a player, Kobe Bryant is marking many milestones, saying goodbye to players, teams and fans around the NBA.

On Tuesday, Lakers coach Byron Scott admitted the 2015-16 season was a “lost season,” but was positive about the future of the team. A team that, next year, won’t have Kobe Bryant. He said Kobe was ready to play on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings, who eventually won the game, 112-93. Kobe, plagued by nagging injuries, managed 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. He shot 2-7 from beyond the 3-point arc, not really what Lakers fans had come to expect from one of their team’s all-time best players.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

On Friday the Lakers will mark the 10-year anniversary of Bryant’s biggest scoring game, when he finished with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors: January 22, 2006. These are his stats from that game: 81 points (28-of-46 — 60.9 percent), 18 of 20 at the stripe, six rebounds, two assists and three steals, and he played 42 of the 48 regulation minutes.

The only other Laker — the only other NBA player — with more points in one game: Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 points as a Philadelphia Warrior in a game against the New York Knicks, in Hershey, Pennsylvania; March 2, 1962.

Bryant led the league in scoring that season, averaging 35 points per game, so that helped. In that historic game he scored 55 points in the second half, bringing his team from an 18-point deficit to winning the game, 122-104. That’s a 36-point swing behind one player. The Raptor tasked with guarding Kobe Bryant that night, Jalen Rose, doesn’t even think it was Bryant’s best game. That, Rose told the Los Angeles Times, came in the previous game when Kobe scored 60 in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks — a playoff-bound team. In that game Bryant sat out the fourth quarter.

This week our sports reporter was at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo for a team practice and then Wednesday Night she was at the game and covered the post-game comments from Bryant. Below are her two videos from those events.

Photos and video by Claudia Gestro