Blog Entry

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:11 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 1:56 pm
LeBron James drops a historic performance with 51 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Magic Thursday night. We break down what made it so great and its place in history. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Just a reminder: LeBron James is incredibly good at basketball. Love him, hate him, despise him, curse the ground his designer shoes walk on, think he's a quitter, an egomaniac, a spoiled child, fine. But do not forget what he reminded the league Thursday night. He's an amazing player who is able to take the game over in every phase like no one else. 

51 points for King James, and it was a barrage from all over the floor. Check out the shot chart from our GameTracker

James took 25 shots and only missed eight of them. He only missed three free throws. 3-5 from the arc, and he nailed more jumpers than he missed. That's a remarkable barrage, topped only by the fact that he also dropped in 11 rebounds, and eight assists which netted 19 points (three 3-point assists and five 2-point assists) . So of the Heat's 104 points, James himself created 70 points, or over 67% of the team's total offense. The very definition of high-usage, while also facilitating and getting his teammates involved. It was the most complete game we've seen, and it came in a huge win over a division rival. 

James had said earlier in the week that this would be "fun" after the comments in preseason by the Magic, their coach, and GM. He certainly showed that tonight.  What's particularly become deadly about James on the Heat is that he no longer is gassed by the time the game gets into the second half. Instead he's able to execute all the parts of his offense, the transition, drive, and his perimeter game, which somehow gets stronger. When you've got LeBron James finding open three point shots on the perimeter and the rest of his team can hit water from a boat, then you've got something special. 

No one game will determine the MVP. But in a race as close as this year's has been, games like this will stick in the minds of voters. Because what James did Thursday against the Magic? It's simply not believable. 


James' performance was among his all-time greatest performances. It was his highest rebound total in a 50-plus-point game and the second highest in rebounds plus assists in a 50-plus-point game. Historically, it was only the fourth 50-plus-point, 10-plus rebound, 8-plus-assist game in history, with Jordan, Bryant, and Wade owners of the other three. It's the second highest field goal percentage in such an effort, behind Jordan's 20 of 28 performance in '89. And with Wade and Bryant's both coming in a triple-overtime and double-overtime game respectively, Jordan and James are the only two players in history to complete a 50-11-8 game in regulation.  What's more? This was the slowest-paced game of those historic efforts, with an estimated 88 possessions*, while Bryant's was at 90.  This wasn't just a herculean effort, it was the very model of modern efficiency.

And this was against the Magic, who host the fifth best defense in the league.  This was on a Thursday night nationally televised road game against a division rival and championship contending competitor, in which the second best player on his team left for a long stretch with a back contusion.  Granted his third best player is better than most team's best player, but the point should still be made. If you want to talk about stepping up, this was a huge one. It may matter nothing in the context of LeBron's recent playoff history, but this game is well worth your respect. It was truly one of the all-time greats.  He didn't put in one of the top scoring, rebounding, or assist performances. He just made his impact felt in every phase of the game, constantly, consistently, and emphatically. 

(For more on the game, check out GameChanger, where the Magic couldn't put it away despite James' performance, and McDyess had the last laugh on the Lakeshow.)

*NOTE: The estimated number of possessions via the Four-Factors Chrome Extension provided 88.0 possessions. Basketball-Reference this afternoon puts the pace at 88.5. That's still incredibly slow, and slower than Bryant's, but I wanted to note it in full disclosure. The differential results from a very minor shift in the formula for how possessions are estimated. 

Since: Jan 20, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2011 12:44 pm

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

haha, agreed...well said sid....Gilbert sucks.  The whole situation sucks and is sad, it could have been such a great piece of History...for Lebron to grow up there, get drafted and win them rings.....

Oh well...

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2011 10:14 am

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

Neely_de------I stopped reading your comment right after you said you were from Europe.  Be quiet when Americans are speaking.
Wow nice post tard

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2011 9:59 am

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

Neely_de------I stopped reading your comment right after you said you were from Europe.  Be quiet when Americans are speaking.

Since: Feb 4, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2011 9:20 am

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

I registered just to say this:

sid1011, you're so right 100% with everything that you wrote in your post!

Of course, I understand there are - contrary to me who is from Europe and has no born-in relation to a city or a team and just wants to watch good basketball for entertainment and fun - a lot of real Cavs fans who are bitter about Lebron leaving, but sid1011, you hit so many nails right on the head in your post.

Well done about the remark that it is a bit hypocrite of former Stars to say they would not have left their team if they were in the same situation like James. The forgot about that most of their teams had better GMs who understood to build a team around their century All-Stars to give them a supporting cast. And yes, even Jordon required Kerr or Paxon to hit important Championsship-deciding shots.

Since: Mar 22, 2010
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:56 am

LeBron's 51-11-8 is one for the ages

I love to see Cleveland fans come on this site and say Lebron stinks during the playoffs when his record in the playoffs say different. He had one bad game where he was 3-14 and he started asking his team mates to pick him up and make some shots. He got the ball to them when they were wide open and over and over and over and over and over and I could go on and on and on but you get the picture they missed. Then Gilbert goes off his rocker saying Cleveland will win a championship before Lebron does. Cleveland has lost its last 32 out of 33 games and has only won 8 all year what a joke and you blame Lebron for not winning a championship when he carried the entire team year after year and if his other 11 players would have not chocked year after year exept for maybe the 2006-2007 season he was good enough to get you that ring. Also after the first time ever you won the eastern division championship because of Lebron and some good players who played well in the playoffs like Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, and Shannon Brown who has now won 2 rings with the Lakers. So what did Gilbert do the next year with a very good team, he broke it apart letting all those players go. Then he replaced them with Ben Wallace for a 2 year contract who was washed up he was in his 15th and 16th season while in cleveland. Ben was supposed to play mostly on defense but he was slow and in 2 years he only made 106 baskets and was the last man down the court a lot of times.. Gilbert also paid him a total of thirty MILLION dollars for 2 years what a friggin joke. Also he signed Wally Szczerbiak who was in his 13th season to a 2 year contract paying him over 25 MILLION for 2 years. He again showed he was also washed up only starting 6 games in 2 years and off the bench stunk. All along LeBron was making less than these 2 players while he carried the team. Now what was Gilberts next brillant move, I know Give Shaq who was more washed up than Wally and Ben ( who was know let go after there poor performance)  20 Million dollars for 1 year again making making Lebron the lower paid player. Shaq was so slow and could only play less than 2 quarters a game. He also missed dunk after dunk and lay up after lay up If I had a dollar for every time Austin Carr said now that was ridiculas referring to Shaq missing so many easy baskets I would be rich. Now Shaq is playing for Boston for 3 million a year. Do you think Gilbert over paid him,  DAH. In those 3 years after Gilbert dismantled the Eastern Conference Championship team he paid 3 washed up players a total of over 75 million dollars. With that much money Gilbert could have brought in some real talent something to give Lebron a reason to stay in Cleveland. If any one of you Cleveland fans say that after Gilbert  pulled those stunts that you would waste another 5 years in Cleveland you are a liar. Gilbert could not even get Bosh to come to Cleveland to play with Lebron. Lebron made the best decision for himself. A lot of retired great basketball players all who have won rings said if they were Lebron they would have stayed in cleveland. What a bunch of bull, Jordon wanted rings and he had hall of fame players on his team. Do you think he would have stayed with a team with average to below average players on it, NOOOOOOOO WAYYYYYYYYY.

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