LeBron James scored a career-high 61 points, breaking Glen Rice's franchise record, and the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107 on Monday night.
James made 22 of 33 shots from the field, including his first eight 3-point attempts. His career best had been 56 points, on March 20, 2005, for Cleveland against Toronto.
Rice scored 56 to set the Heat record on April 15, 1995, against Orlando.
James had 24 points at halftime, then added 25 in the third quarter. The record-breaker came with 5:46 left, when James spun through three defenders for a layup that fell as he tumbled to the court.
Al Jefferson had 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, his huge night merely an afterthought.
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.
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.
Chris Bosh scored 15 for the Heat, and Toney Douglas added 10.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 12 for Charlotte.
Miami was without guard Dwyane Wade, who got a night off to rest. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stressed there's been no setback for Wade, who has been on a knee-maintenance program throughout this season and is averaging 23.5 points on 62 percent shooting since the All-Star break.
Wade probably didn't mind sitting for this one. It gave him a courtside seat for the show put on by James.
Actually, the night started as the Jefferson show, with the Charlotte big man pretty much doing whatever he wanted early. The Bobcats made seven of their first eight shots, and a layup by Jefferson gave Charlotte a 15-6 lead with 7:47 left in the opening quarter.
By the end of the period, Charlotte's lead was gone for good.
James had 11 in the first quarter, after which Miami led by three, and added 13 more in the second. His 24-point first half was the highest-scoring opening 24 minutes for the four-time MVP in nearly a year, helping stake the Heat to a 60-54 lead at the break.
Jefferson was up to 26 at that point. He didn't cool off much after halftime, either.
It just didn't matter.
This was The LeBron Show, plain and simple.
James made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the quarter — he was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc at that point — and when Charlotte bit on his head fake from the top of the key, James coolly found Douglas to set up another 3. An tip-in by James followed not long afterward and just like that, the lead was up to 83-63.
Charlotte scored the next six points, but any notions that the game was slipping from Miami's control were quickly extinguished.
James scored the next six himself, a pair of three-point plays to restore the 20-point edge and give him 43 points, already a season high.
All that was left to see was what he'd finish with.
And the answer was history.
NOTES: Spoelstra won the Eastern Conference coach of the month award for February. Houston's Kevin McHale won in the Western Conference, and the Rockets play host to Miami on Tuesday night. ... The Heat improved to 10-6 when Wade doesn't play. They're 33-8 when he does.