LeBron James scored a career playoff-high 49 points tonight in leading the Miami Heat to a 102-96 victory over the Brooklyn Nets and a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
King James was absolutely devastating, scoring his 49 points on 16-of-29 field goals and 14-of-19 from the free throw line. His 49 points set a new Heat franchise playoff scoring mark, eclipsing Dwyane Wade’s 46 points in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
But while LeBron’s dominant night set personal and franchise postseason scoring records, he fell just short of the top five scoring games in NBA playoff history.
63 Points – Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, 1986
Talk about kissing your sister. Michael Jordan scored an NBA record 63 points against the Boston Celtics in 1986, but his Chicago Bulls still lost 135-131 in double OT. Jordan was amazing hitting 22-of-41 shots and 19-of-21 free throws, but Boston’s Larry Bird (36 points, 12 rebounds), Kevin McHale (27 points, 15 rebounds), Danny Ainge (24 points), and company proved better as a team. Boston would win the next game as well, sweeping MJ’s Bulls 3-0 in the Eastern Conference first round.
61 Points – Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers, 1962
The Los Angeles Lakers were facing their archrivals in the Boston Celtics in the 1962 NBA Finals when Elgin Baylor put up the most dominant game in Finals history. Baylor scored 62 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in the Lakers’ Game 5 126-121 victory, giving the Lakers a 3-2 series edge. But Boston would go on to win the next two games, claiming the title in seven.
56 Points – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors, 1962
Wilt Chamberlain averaged an NBA record 50.4 points per game in the 1961-62 season, the same year as his 100-point game, so it is not too surprising to see him score 56 in a playoff game. Wilt’s 56 points in Game 5 propelled the Philadelphia Warriors to a 3-2 series victory over the Syracuse Nationals.
56 Points – Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, 1992
What happens when you put Michael Jordan against Miami Heat defenders like Steve Smith and Glen Rice in a close-out game? You get 56 points on 20-of-30 field goals and 16-of-18 free throws, that’s what. Jordan’s 56 in Game 3 led to a Bulls 3-0 opening round sweep, and Chicago would ultimately go on in 1992 to win its second of three consecutive NBA titles.
56 Points – Charles Barkley, Phoenix Suns, 1994
In a game in which defense was apparently not permitted, Charles Barkley scored 56 points to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 140-133 Game 3 and series-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors. Barkley hardly missed a shot, going 23-of-31 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line in one of the most memorable games of a very memorable career.