Miami’s LeBron James scored a career-high and franchise-record 61 points to lead the hosts to a 124-107 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday, moving the Heat back within two games of NBA Eastern Conference leaders the Indiana Pacers.
James made 22 of 33 shots from the field, including his first eight three-point attempts. His career best had been 56 points in 2004-2005 for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Toronto Raptors.
Among the day’s other games, the Memphis Grizzlies withstood a late rally and ended the Washington Wizards’ winning streak at six games, the Brooklyn Nets had a comfortable win over the sloppy Chicago Bulls and an alley-oop dunk with 6.9 seconds left lifted the struggling Los Angeles Lakers over the Portland Trail Blazers.
James scored a staggering 25 points in the third quarter alone and broke the Heat’s franchise record with 5 minutes, 46 seconds left, passing Glenn Rice’s 56 points scored in 1994-1995.
When James was benched in the penultimate minute, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Al Jefferson had 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, but his huge night was merely an afterthought.
Charlotte have allowed the two biggest single-game scoring totals in the NBA this season. Carmelo Anthony had 62 points for the New York Knicks on Jan. 24.
Memphis’ Tayshaun Prince scored a season-high 21 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 110-104 win over Washington.
Zach Randolph added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who improved to a season-high nine games above .500 and pulled within one game of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Memphis shot 60 percent after the first quarter and outscored Washington 62-34 in the paint.
John Wall scored 23 points for the Wizards, who could not extend their streak in the absence of Nene, Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster.
Brooklyn got back to a .500 win-loss record for the first time since early November last year by beating Chicago 96-80.
Deron Williams scored 20 points and Joe Johnson had 19 for the Nets.
Chicago turned the ball over 28 times, leading to 30 Brooklyn points, and had their four-game winning streak snapped. They had a franchise-low three turnovers in their previous game.
Los Angeles’ Kent Bazemore threw an alley-oop to Wesley Johnson for the go-ahead dunk with 6.9 seconds left to lift the Lakers to a 107-106 win over Portland.
Pau Gasol scored 22 points for the Lakers, who led by 11 points in the fourth quarter, but fell into a tie for the lead with 1:10 left.
Damian Lillard hit one of two free throws to give Portland the lead, but the officials reversed a possession call with 7.1 seconds left, giving the ball to the Lakers.
Bazemore lobbed to Johnson for the dunk and Lillard missed a three-pointer as time ran out.
Robin Lopez had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who had won their previous five games.
Minnesota’s Kevin Love scored 33 points and tied a season high with 19 rebounds for his NBA-best 50th double-double this season as the Timberwolves beat the skidding Denver Nuggets 132-128 for their third win in a row.
The Detroit Pistons surged past New York in a matchup of slumping teams, beating the Knicks 96-85 with Andre Drummond having a career-high 26 rebounds.
Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings beat the slumping New Orleans Pelicans 96-89.
The Milwaukee Bucks hit an impressive 57 percent from the field to beat the Utah Jazz 114-88, with Ersan Ilyasova scoring a season-high 31 points on 13-of-14 shooting.