LeBron James continued his campaign to snatch the NBA MVP award from the grasp of Kevin Durant with a relentlessly efficient and emphatic 61-point performance Monday night.
James had the best game of his career, setting a Miami Heat record with 61 points as the Heat won their eighth straight game with a 124-107 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in Miami. He scored from everywhere, making his first eight three-point shots and sinking 8 treys in 10 attempts overall, but didn’t have a single dunk.
“Phenomenal. Amazing. Stupendous. Immaculate,” Chris Bosh, one of the Heat players feeding James constantly in the fourth quarter to get him over 60, said (via the Miami Herald) and he may not have been exaggerating.
James, wearing a clear mask to protect his broken nose, completed 66 percent of his shots (“The rim looked like an ocean for him,” Coach Erik Spoelstra said) and was 9 of 12 from the free throw line. He had only two turnovers in the 10th 50-point game of his career.
“First of all, I was able to do it in a win,” James said. “I probably had three or four just Heat check shots out of rhythm, just taking them. Third thing, to do it with a group of guys I would do anything for. It means so much. These guys are really true brothers of mine.”
James, whose previous best was 56 points when he was with Cleveland in 2005, wanted the record and no doubt relishes the fact that he and the Heat are clicking at the right time.
“After three quarters, I wanted to hit 50 on the home floor,” James said. “This is the first time I’ve scored 50 on the home floor. I’ve done it so many times on the road and to be able to do it on front of these fans. [Spoelstra] said he was going to give me a couple of minutes in the fourth. He gave me more than a few minutes.”
He had 24 points at the half and 25 in the third quarter. And, well, it’s probably not a good idea to engrave the MVP trophy just yet.
“I tell you guys all the time, every night I go on the floor I’m going to be the MVP,” James told reporters after the game. “MVP for this league, MVP for this team, MVP for me — for myself. I have a responsibility and I try to put that into the forefront every night. … It’s up to you guys to vote for whoever it is [for MVP]. It’s still a long season, though.”