Los Angeles Lakers Rumors: Why Wasn’t Kobe Bryant Double-Teamed During His 81-Point Outburst? Jalen Rose Explains (VIDEO)
Jalen Rose spoke to Grantland Channel this week about why the Toronto Raptors refused to double-team Kobe Bryant during his 81-point performance in 2006. (Photo: REUTERS)
NBA analyst and former Toronto Raptor Jalen Rose may have intentionally injured Kobe Bryant's ankle during the 2000 NBA Finals. But six years later, Bryant got revenge on Rose and the rest of the Raptors squad, scoring 81 points in a 122-104 Lakers win.
Bryant dominated the Raptors all evening on his way to the second-highest scoring total in NBA history. Yet, Toronto refused to double-team the guard, according to an interview with Rose on the Grantland Channel.
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"We thought about doing some things to him during the game," Rose said. "I remember one time we came to the sideline and Mike James, myself and a couple of guys huddled up, and we were talking to [Raptors coach] Sam Mitchell about, 'Hey coach, think we might want to double-team that guy? Maybe make someone else beat us. That may help.' ... He was playing one-on-one, between the leg, behind the back, for three, to the basket. I just remember realizing at one point in the game, this may be something historic happening right now."
Rose then explained why he thinks Bryant remained single-covered.
"Coaches go through this sometimes. Since you didn't listen to me 100 percent, I'm going to watch you suffer. And coaches do that to their basketball teams, when they feel like they want to send a message to the team. ... But Kobe sent a stronger one to all of us."
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Mitchell's message may not have worked that evening, but eventually he must have gotten through. Toronto won the Atlantic Division the following season, and Mitchell was named the 2006-2007 Coach of the Year.
Rose notes that Bryant got off to a relatively slow start against the Raptors that night. He scored just 26 points in the entire first half, which is a decent total but certainly not a sign of the legendary performance to come.
"We were playing a 1-2-2 zone in the NBA, versus Kobe Bryant," Rose said. "And we were winning earlier in the game, so it gave us, I guess, some false sense of security. Duh. Who's Kobe going to pass it to?"
But Bryant then scored 27 points in the third quarter alone and followed that up with 28 more points in the fourth quarter. He finished the game 28-of-46, including 7-of-13 from behind the arc.
"He was dominant over us," Rose said. "You know when you're growing up, and then the rim in the backyard is eight foot tall, and there's one guy that can really probably dunk on the ten-foot hoop, but he's playing on the eight-foot hoop? That's how he was dominant, putting a smackdown on us. He really did."
But while Bryant embarrassed the Raptors, Rose still respects the guard and his talent as a player.
"When you're going against a guy like that, there are going to be historic nights," Rose said. "It's not like Luke Walton scored 20 on me. If that would have happened, I would have buried my hand in the sand."
For the record, Walton, currently a forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, scored zero points in 14 minutes on that historic night.
To see Rose's entire account of the game (complete with fun graphics), click on the video below.