What words do you even use to describe LeBron James' 61-point night against the Charlotte Bobcats?
"Phenomenal. Amazing. Stupendous. Immaculate," Chris Bosh said after Monday's game, via the Miami Herald. Shane Battier added, "Wilt Chamberlain-esque," pointing to the fact James did it on 22-for-33 shooting.
Here's the phenomamazimmaculendous shot chart:
The 22 field goals marked a new career high, and he's never made more than eight threes in a game. The craziest part was that, through three quarters, he was 8-for-8 from long distance. James made Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, an excellent all-around defender, and the Charlotte Bobcats, the sixth best defensive team in the league per Basketball Reference, look utterly helpless. Double teams did nothing to disrupt James' rhythm, even when an extra man was sent as soon as he passed halfcourt.
James also shot 9-for-12 from the free throw line, and added seven rebounds, five assists and just two turnovers in 41 minutes.
The nutty numbers don't even totally do justice to how easy James made everything look. James took a few heat-check jumpers, but he wasn't exactly forcing the issue. Even when the shots were tough, they almost all felt like they came within the flow of the game:
In the wake of James' destruction, it's worth taking a gander at James' top scoring nights. His second-highest scoring total came almost nine years ago in Toronto, where he scored 56 points on 18-for-36 shooting, playing all 48 minutes. It was his first 50-point night in the NBA and, as insane as that was, the difference in the shot charts provides a glimpse into how his game has changed since then. There's more midrange stuff here:
In terms of James' three-pointers, the only night that compares to the Bobcats game was in February of 2009 in Milwaukee, where James went 8-for-11 from beyond the arc en route to 55 points. Even then, though, there were a bunch of midrange misses:
Aside from Monday night, the closest James got to perfection was probably the night he dropped 51 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic in February of 2011. He shot 17-for-25 that night, hot from just about everywhere. A couple of things differentiate the Charlotte game from all the others, though, even beyond the mask he was wearing. First, it was the first of James' 50-plus-point nights that took place in a home game. Second, according to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, this was James' first dunk-less game since January.
He dropped 61 without dunking. Pretty sure even Wilt Chamberlain never did that.