Bryant scored 81 points - the most in an NBA game with the exception of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game - in the Lakers' 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
It was an accomplishment not even Bryant, whose success has come about as a result of a refusal to accept anything but greatness, ever considered doing.
"Not even in my dreams," Bryant said afterward.
In the final minutes of the game, the 18,997 fans at Staples Center leapt to their feet not when the ball dropped through the net, but the moment Bryant touched the ball. There was that much celebration and anticipation on this night when Bryant made 28 of 46 field-goal attempts (60.9 percent), including 7 of 13 from three-point range. He sank 18 of 20 foul shots and played 41:56 of the game, exiting with 4.2 seconds left and falling into a quick embrace with smiling Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who never saw Michael Jordan score more than 69 points in a game.
In a game the Lakers trailed by 18 points early in the second half, Bryant's 81 points accounted for 66.4 percent of the Lakers' total - more than Chamberlain's 59.2 percent of the Philadelphia Warriors' 169 points on March 2, 1962.
"For me, it was about the W, and that's why I turned it on," Bryant said. "Then I just tried to ride the wave and demoralize our opponent - and it turned into something special."
In other NBA action: Denver 89, San Antonio 85; Philadelphia 86, Minnesota 84; LA Clippers 105, Golden State 92; Memphis 93, Washington 82; Detroit 99, Houston 97; Miami 119, Sacramento 99; Seattle 152, Phoenix 149, 2OT; Dallas 95, Portland 89, OT.