LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant never has been better.
Bryant poured in a career-high 56 points in just 34 minutes as the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded from an embarrassing loss with a 120-81 rout of the Memphis Grizzies.
Bryant was the focal point of the Lakers' offense on Monday after center Shaquille O'Neal was suspended for three games earlier in the day. The 23-year-old superstar responded with a tantalizing hightlight-reel performance.
Playing just the first three quarters, Bryant made 21-of-34 shots from the field and 11-of-12 free throws, surpassing his previous high of 51 points, accomplished on December 5, 2000 against Golden State.
Bryant also established an NBA season high for points in a game, three more than Tim Duncan of San Antonio had on December 26.
In his dominating effort, Bryant nearly singlehandedly outscored the Grizzlies through three quarters. Los Angeles led 98-59 entering the final period.
Bryant did most of his damage against Grizzlies rookie forward Shane Battier, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year at Duke. Bryant had a combined 49 points in two previous meetings against Memphis this season.
The Lakers, who lost at Memphis in December, rolled to their most lopsided win of the season and led by as many as 42 points in the fourth quarter.
O'Neal was suspended for throwing a vicious punch at Chicago's Brad Miller in the Lakers' 106-104 overtime loss to the Bulls -- the N