LEBRON James broke a series of Kobe Bryant Laker records when he set fire to his return to Miami on Monday (AEDT).
James also broke some of his own marks when he scored 51 points and the Lakers won a convincing 113-97 heat win – their fifth win in six games.
James made 28 points in the first half of what saw the visitors lead by 67 to 52 on the Main Break.
His pyrotechnics were just beginning.
After scoring another 14 points in the third quarter, James had NBA statisticians extend their record books when some famous landmarks began to fall.
He hit a 32-foot foot into the final bucket of the game with 16 seconds to play to take his course above the 50-point mark for the 13th time in his career. James also chose not to shoot when he could have the last bell.
The 51-point result is the highest ever score against one of his former teams (Cleveland and Miami), a 12-year record that goes back to the 47 points he scored against the Heat in 2006.
James also won the Kobe Bryant record (42 points) for the most points lost in the Heat by a Lakers player.
It was James' second score of 40 points or more this season and the 63rd time he reached 40 in the NBA. Scoring 40 for the second time in his 16th league season, he joined Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to score multiple 40-point games in a season so late in their careers. James also became the first Laker to have multiple 40-point games in a season since Bryant's retirement at the end of the 2015-16 season.
He also rose above Allen Iverson in sixth in the list of all 50-point games in NBA history. Only Wilt Chamberlain (118), Michael Jordan (31), Kobe Bryant (25), Elgin Baylor (17) and Rick Barry (14) produced more 50-point games in league history.
James had 19 points in the first quarter to set the tone while the Lakers led by 21 and never crawled.
It was the first time James has won against Miami since leaving the Heat after the 2014 NBA Finals. He was 0-4 when he faced the Heat ever since; his teams were 0-7 when he included the three Cleveland-Miami games that he missed out for several reasons.
Miami has not forgotten James, obviously – he still gets applause when introduced in his old house – but in case any participant needs a reminder of what's in his skill set, he's done a show. He made eight of his first nine shots and made the whole arsenal work; dunks in transition, three point stepback, baseline returns.
The pain did not stop for Miami until the last siren.
The win took the Lakers to 9-7 for the season – the same record James' teams had after 16 games in the first season of their two previous changes. These two teams, the Heat in 2010-11 and the Cavaliers in 2014-15, made it to the NBA Finals.
DRAYMOND GREEN MISSING FOR WARRIORS
The Golden State Warriors said Draymond Green will be out of Saturday's showdown with the Mavericks in Dallas due to a twist rather than because of any lingering effects of their fight with teammate Kevin Durant.
Green missed two games last week against Milwaukee and Brooklyn after injuring a right toe against Memphis.
"We decided to give him a break," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "We do not know how long it will last, but the toe has persisted." Kerr added that Green "probably" will also miss the two champions' game against San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Rumors of a dispute between Green and Durant emerged after the pair had a heated exchange after the end of regular time in Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, prompting Green to comply with a suspension imposed by a game.
ESPN reported that malaise over the exchange had turned into a post-match showdown in the locker room.
Green, who joked with the suspension, was helpful in treating his foot injury and returned to action on Thursday when he did not score in 24 minutes in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
Kerr said the team and Green agreed that he needed some time to let the injury heal.
"He felt it, we felt it and our training team felt we were spinning our wheels a bit if we kept playing with it and it gets a little worse," Kerr said.
"We have to improve it."
GRIZZLIES PILE MISERY IN MINNESOTA
With Mike Conley finally healthy to join teammate Marc Gasol, and add rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. to 242 feet, the Memphis Grizzlies returned to his trusty approach to physical defense. There's Memphis winning again too.
Gasol had 26 points and 13 rebounds while Conley added 18 points and nine assists and the Grizzlies moved away to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-87 on Sunday. Memphis, who entered the game with second place in most NBA turnovers, forced Minnesota into 20 innings and turned them into 19 points by winning for the fifth time in six games.
"That's what gives us the best chance to win against any team," Gasol said of the physical style. "I think it's who we try to be consistently. Obviously last year was a small flaw in the system, but in the past what, 10, 11, 12 years, this team prides itself on being a very physical team, and that is what gives us the best chance of winning. "It helped the Grizzlies overcome their own offensive and slow start. He was 4 of 7 in the range of 3 points and Memphis reached 12 in total. "It's a game change," Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of the shootout outside Gasol. "These shots break open games for you." Gasol scored 18 points in the second half.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 points and 20 rebounds for the Timberwolves. They had won three straight games since they traded Jimmy Butler for Philadelphia. "There was a physicality in the game that we probably did not respond as well as we could or should have," said Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau. The Wolves entered the game with the second smallest turnover in the NBA at 12.5 per game, but the Grizzlies were active early and forced Minnesota into eight turnovers in the first quarter. The wolves averaged 113 points per game by winning the first three games of the house after switching Butler.
"They play slow," said Minnesota forward Robert Covington. "They were part of that. We can not allow them to dictate our rhythm. We have to get the ball in transition, we need to use our athletics. Tonight, we could not do that. "Dario Saric, who came from the 76ers along with Covington, hit three 3 points and scored 11 points in the fourth. Saric hit a 3 to tie the Wolves with eight points, but Gasol hit a pair of 3s in consecutive possession after a timeout.