Maybe it was not 61 (Kobe) nor 55 (Jordan), but it was surely a night to remember. James scored a season-high 52 points in his 21st career triple-double, joined Michael Jordan as the only visitors with multiple 50-point games at the present Madison Square Garden, and led Cleveland to a 107-102 victory over New York on Wednesday night. Two nights after Bryant set a record at the present building with 61 points, James was on pace to break it after scoring 20 in the first quarter. His scoring eventually tailed off a bit, especially after he briefly left the game in the fourth quarter after cramping up, but the skills that make him perhaps the NBA’s premier all-around player remained throughout. “I don’t go out there for the numbers, I just play my game,” James said. “You guys seen every phase of my game tonight, the scoring, the rebounding, the assists and defensively just trying to attack the opposing team.
“I never thought you could look at the box score and see somebody with 50 with a triple-double, but it’s happened.” James added 11 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to have a triple-double in a 50-point game. James grabbed his final rebound with under 2 seconds left, then tumbled out of bounds as time expired. Actually, they were similar numbers to James’ game in New York last March, when he finished with 50 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Jordan is the only other visiting player to twice score 50 here, with a high of 55 that was the opponent record before Bryant broke it Monday night. “The sad thing is that I’m sure LeBron said that it’s no big deal to get 61 points,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I’ll just get a triple-double. (Kobe) didn’t do that.” The focus on James’ first trip here in November was his free agency in 2010, days after the Knicks made a pair of trades to clear salary cap space for a run at him. This time, the building was still buzzing from Bryant’s performance, and the talk was on whether James could top it. LeBron James scored the second-most points ever in a triple-double…
- Wilt Chamberlain, PHI – March 18, 1968 – 53
- LeBron James, CLE – Feb. 4, 2009 – 52
- Elgin Baylor, LAL – Dec. 13, 1961 – 52
Photos Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE via Getty Images. Photos by Nick Laham/Getty Images, Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Image.