LeBron James returned to Miami for the first time as a Los Angeles Laker Sunday, dropping 51 points on his former team in a 113-97 NBA victory over the Heat.
LeBron James, who led the Heat to four NBA Finals appearances and two titles before returning to his hometown club Cleveland, made it look easy from the opening tipoff, scoring 19 points in the first quarter on the way to a season high.
The Lakers never trailed, leading by as many as 21 points.
LeBron James, who departed Cleveland for Los Angeles as a free agent prior to this season, set the tone early on Sunday, making a steal to launch a fast break that he capped with a dunk for his first points.
He capped his spree with a three-pointer with 16 seconds to play — notching the 13th 50-point game of his career.
He’s the first Lakers player since Kobe Bryant to have multiple 40-point games in a season, and he notched his first win over the Heat since departing as a free agent in 2014.
James connected on 19 of 31 shots from the floor, including six of eight from three-point range. He made seven of 10 free throws, pulled down eight rebounds and handed out three assists.
The Lakers rebounded from a disappointing 130-117 loss to the Orlando Magic while handing the Heat a fourth straight defeat.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t surprised by what he saw from the superstar he once coached.
“I’ve seen it before on our side,” Spoelstra said. “No question, when he’s hitting the three like that, that changes the equation.
“We probably should have gone more aggressively to take the ball out of his hands.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits from Richard Barrett)