Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Miami Heat, LeBron James said returning to South Beach, where he spent four seasons and won two titles, evoked fond memories. James certainly looked at home on Sunday night, pouring in a season-high 51 points in a wire-to-wire victory.
It was his 12th career 50-point game, gave James two 40-point games this season and broke a Lakers record for most points scored against the Heat, which was previously held by Kobe Bryant. He set it on Christmas Day in 2004, with 42 points in an overtime loss at Staples Center.
With the Lakers coming off a deflating loss to the Orlando Magic, James was rolling early on the second night of a back-to-back. He scored 19 points in the first quarter and added nine more before halftime.
James then erupted in the third and went into the fourth quarter at 42 points. While the Lakers held a double-digit lead at the time, their offense grew stagnant and hit a dry spell.
James entered with just over 8 minutes remaining and promptly hit a fadeaway jumper to tie Bryant’s mark. He capped off the night with a 32-foot 3-pointer on the Lakers’ final possession of the game.
The franchise accomplishment is the latest in what’s already been a banner season for James on a personal level. He surpassed Dirk Nowitzki on the NBA All-Time scoring list, then overtook Wilt Chamberlain and now resides in fifth place.