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“Yeah, that was a designed play,” Spoelstra deadpanned. “We’ve been working on that one for a while.”

That was the moment, James said, when he knew he was in the midst of a special night.

“I felt pretty good in the first half but halftime can always kind of derail things and slow things up,” James said. “But I was able to get things going once again in the third quarter and I knew it could be one of those nights.”

Not “one of those nights.”

Even for James, this was like no other.

Most points in a game. Most field goals in a game. Most points in any quarter in Heat history, with the 25 in the third. Most points in the second half, 37, by any Heat player ever.

“Once he sniffed 60, we knew he was going for it,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “And the amazing part is the efficiency. Good Lord. Sixty-one on 33 shots, that’s Wilt Chamberlain-esque. That’s pretty amazing. Incredible performance.”

When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as “M-V-P” chants rained down.

Charlotte has allowed the two biggest single-game scoring totals in the NBA this season. Carmelo Anthony had 62 points for the New York Knicks against the Bobcats on Jan. 24.

Chris Bosh scored 15 for the Heat, and Toney Douglas added 10.

Chris Douglas-Roberts and Anthony Tolliver each scored 12 for Charlotte.

“If he’s going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there’s nobody that’s going to beat them,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Miami was without guard Dwyane Wade, who got a night off to rest. Spoelstra stressed there’s been no setback for Wade, who has been on a knee-maintenance program throughout this season and is averaging 23.5 points on 62 percent shooting since the All-Star break.

Wade probably didn’t mind sitting for this one. It gave him a courtside seat for the show.

James scored 11 in the first quarter, after which Miami led by three, and added 13 more in the second. His 24-point first half was the highest-scoring opening 24 minutes for the four-time MVP in nearly a year, helping stake the Heat to a 60-54 lead at the break.

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