Kobe Bryant further solidified his status as a National Basketball Association superstar Sunday, scoring an astounding 81 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 122-104 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors.
Bryant did most of the damage in the second half, scoring 55 points on his way to the second-highest individual scoring performance in NBA history. He made 28-46 shots from the field, including seven from three-point range, and sank 18 of 20 free throws.
As fans in Los Angeles cheered and chanted "MVP, MVP" (for Most Valuable Player), Bryant hit two free throws in the closing minute for his final points. He left the court to a standing ovation with four seconds remaining in the game. Bryant told reporters after the incredible 81-point performance, "I could never dream this."
Only the late NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain scored more points than Bryant in a single game. In 1962, Wilt scored 100 points for Philadelphia against the New York Knicks.
In another high-scoring game Sunday, the Seattle SuperSonics edged the host Phoenix Suns 152-149 in double-overtime. Ray Allen netted a three-pointer in the second five-minute extra session to break an NBA record for the most combined three-pointers in a game. The two teams hit 32 baskets from three-point range. Their combined 301 points are the most since Dallas and Houston combined for 303 in 1995.
Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, another leading candidate for the league MVP honor, netted 39 points in the 76ers' narrow 86-84 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Sixers erased a 19-point deficit and held Minnesota star Kevin Garnett to only 13 points to win their second straight game, and complete a season sweep of the T-Wolves.
Other NBA winners Sunday were the Nuggets, Grizzlies, Clippers, Pistons, Heat and Mavericks. The Denver Nuggets topped the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 89-85, the Memphis Grizzlies overpowered the Washington Wizards 93-82, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors for a sixth straight time, 105-102. The Detroit Pistons edged the Houston Rockets 99-97, the Miami Heat routed the Sacramento Kings 119-99, and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 95-89 in overtime.