As if everyone did not know it already, LeBron James send out a resounding reminder that he reigns atop the NBA… still.
Wearing a plastic mask to protect his broken nose for the third game in a row, James had the most explosive offensive display of his career. In front of a mesmerized home crowd in Miami, the reigning MVP and NBA Finals MVP in scoring a career-high 61 points while leading the Heat to a 124-107 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
James was brilliant. He shot 22-for-33 from the field, including eight straight three-point jumpers. When he was done, he impressed himself.
”A surreal feeling for me right now,” James said.
It was not long into the game when James had a notion he would have “one of those nights,” he said.
“I felt pretty good in the first half, but halftime can always kind of derail things and slow things up,” James, who had 24 points at the half, said. “But I was able to get things going once again in the third quarter.”
All told he set many personal marks: Most points in a game. Most field goals in a game. Most points in any quarter in Heat history, with the 25 in the third. Most points in the second half, 37, by any Heat player ever.
“Once he sniffed 60, we knew he was going for it,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “And the amazing part is the efficiency. Good Lord. Sixty-one on 33 shots, that’s Wilt Chamberlain-esque. That’s pretty amazing. Incredible performance.”
When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as “M-V-P” chants rained down.
Side note: Charlotte has allowed the two biggest single-game scoring totals in the NBA this season. Carmelo Anthony had 62 points for the New York Knicks against the Bobcats on Jan. 24.