LeBron James joins MJ in 60-point club

LeBron James joins MJ in 60-point club
March 4, 2014, 8:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

Love him or despise him, LeBron James put on a show last night in Miami.

James scored a career-high 61 points on 22 of 33 shooting in the Heat's 124-107 win over the Bobcats, knocking down 3-pointers, connecting on midrange jumpers and finishing in the lane at will against one of the league's better defenses.

James was the second player to score 60 or more points this season, as Carmelo Anthony dropped 62 points -- also against the Bobcats -- in January.

James' night put himself in some rarified company, joining 17 other players since 1964 who have topped the 60-point plateau in a regular-season game. Of the 19 60-point performances where field goal percentage was recorded, per basketball-reference.com, James' 66.7 field goal percentage was the fourth highest mark. Only Karl Malone (80.8%), Tom Chambers (68.8%) and Shaquille O'Neal (68.6%) shot better from the field.

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Michael Jordan, who ranks third all-time in scoring, reached the 60-point mark four times in his career, including his 69-point explosion in 1990. His highest field goal percentage in such games occurred then, when he made 62.2 percent of his attempts (23-for-37).

James is on quite the hot streak right now, and it's worth noting considering the Heat travel to Chicago on Sunday -- the Bulls' next home game.

In his last seven games, James is averaging 37.1 points on 63 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He's made 50 percent of his 3-pointers (20-for-40) and the only time he scored fewer than 31 points came against the Magic on Saturday, when he played just 31 minutes in a 14-point win.

James missed Miami's matchup against the Bulls last month while recovering from a broken nose, but the Heat tout an eight-game winning streak -- the NBA's longest current streak -- and are getting hot post-All-Star break like they did a year ago. As it stands, the Bulls and Heat could meet up in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, though Miami is two games back of top-seeded Miami and the Bulls currently sit one-half game behind the third-place Raptors.

Top 10 60-point performances since 1984, by field goal percentage

YEAR PLAYER PTS FG FT MIN
1990 Karl Malone 61 21-26 (80.8%) 19-23 33
1990 Tom Chambers 60 22-32 (68.8%) 16-18 42
2000 Shaquille O'Neal 61 24-35 (68.6%) 13-22 45
2014 LeBron James 61 22-33 (66.7%) 9-12 41
2014 Carmelo Anthony 62 23-35 (65.7%) 10-10 39
1994 David Robinson 71 26-41 (65.7%) 18-25 44
1984 Bernard King 60 19-30 (63.3%) 22-26 --
1990 Michael Jordan 69 23-37 (62.2%) 21-23 50
2009 Kobe Bryant 61 19-31 (61.3%) 20-20 37
1985 Larry Bird 60 22-36 (61.1%) 15-16 --