When his night was finally over, after he had outscored an entire team through three quarters, Kobe Bryant sat down, wrapped a towel around his legs and tucked his hand under his chin.
Then came the laughter, supplied by Coach Phil Jackson, who took out his clipboard, approached the huddle and wrote down what had just happened.
Kobe 62, Dallas 61.
Bryant scored a career-best 62 points without playing in the final quarter, sending him past a litany of Laker greats who never had that many in a game and approaching the NBA record for points in a quarter in a 112-90 Laker victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Bryant breezed by his previous career high of 56 points and set a franchise record for points in a quarter with 30 in the third, breaking what had been a three-way tie at 24 among Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and himself.
Toward the end of the third, to the chants of "Ko-be, Ko-be," he made a three-point shot from the right side with 4.4 seconds left to give him one more point than the Mavericks.
His teammates came out to meet him on the court. Laker fans stood in appreciation, if not awe. Jackson smiled.
"A 30-point third quarter, there's never been anything like that that I've seen," Jackson said. "That was unique in itself."
Bryant's third quarter was the fourth-best individual effort in NBA history. George Gervin had 33 points in a quarter in 1978.
Bryant did not play in the fourth, declining Jackson's invitation to reenter the game if he so desired.
"That's not what we play for," Bryant said. "That's not what it's about. It's not to score 70 points. We wanted to win the game, and the game was in the bag. It was in the refrigerator."
Still smoldering from a humiliating 76-74 loss Sunday to Houston, Bryant told guard Smush Parker and assistant coach Brian Shaw earlier in the day he would score 50 against the Mavericks.
"I told them I'd fix it tonight," he said.
He made 18 of 31 shots and 22 of 25 free throws in 33 minutes. He had 15 points after the first quarter and 32 at halftime.
Baylor, West and Wilt Chamberlain are the only Lakers to have scored more than Bryant in a game.
"I just imagine the company to be in that class," Bryant said. "It's a tremendous, tremendous honor."
Even as his night was obviously over a few minutes into the fourth quarter, the crowd continued to chant his name.
He made four three-pointers, scored on numerous spinners in the lane, and had an easy time drawing fouls whenever he went to the hoop.
"Even if they sent two guys at me, I wanted to let them know tonight I was coming after you guys," he said.
Jackson had called Bryant hesitant after his 24-point effort against Houston, pointing out that he failed to attack 6-foot guard David Wesley.
"Tonight, he went for it," Jackson said.
Maverick owner Mark Cuban, who exchanged barbs with Jackson throughout the week after Jackson accused him of intimidating referees, sat courtside for Tuesday's game, allowing for a pretty good view of Bryant's outburst.
The Lakers led after the first quarter, 25-18, with Bryant making seven of eight shots. Then came the second quarter, with more Bryant and a slightly larger Laker lead, 53-44, at halftime.
When he came out for a rest with 2:15 left in the second quarter, he had 32 points on 11-for-17 shooting. He was put back into the game with 6.3 seconds left until halftime, but his three-point attempt at the buzzer missed, one of few times he disappointed the crowd.
He also mixed it up physically, pointing a finger at Josh Howard in the third quarter after the Maverick forward was called for a flagrant foul for rapping Bryant in the face with his forearm.
Bryant took it in stride, made one of two free throws and continued toward franchise history.
"I didn't realize what kind of quarter I was having," he said. "I just went out there and kept attacking and attacking. It was just a feeling of willfulness, just attack these guys."
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Sixty is nifty
Kobe Bryant became the sixth player in Laker history to score 60 or more points in a game when he scored 62 in three quarters against Dallas on Tuesday. Bryant's 62 is the best single-game total this season:
*--* PLAYER PTS OPPONENT (YEAR) Elgin Baylor 71 New York (1960) Wilt Chamberlain 66 Phoenix (1969) Elgin Baylor 64 Boston (1959) Elgin Baylor 63 Philadelphia (1961) Jerry West 63 New York (1962) Kobe Bryant 62 Dallas (2005) Shaquille O'Neal 61 Clippers (2000) George Mikan 61 Rochester (1952) Wilt Chamberlain 60 Cincinnati (1969)
*--* Most points in a game this season: DATE PLAYER PTS OPPONENT 12-20 Kobe Bryant 62 Dallas 12-10 LeBron James 52 at Milwaukee 11-27 Kobe Bryant 46 New Jersey 11-23 Allen Iverson 45 at Milwaukee