Extra Pass: The other side of LeBron James’ 61-point game

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When Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford blamed his team.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Clifford said. “We made mistakes that allowed him room. He got going.”

When LeBron James scored 61 points against Charlotte a few weeks later, Clifford credited LeBron.

“Tonight, we did the right things,” Clifford said. “If he’s going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there’s nobody that’s going to beat them.”

The Bobcats became the first team since at least 1963-64, as far back as Basketball-Reference’s record date, to surrender two 60-point games in the same season.* It’s a feat that takes a reasonable mix of poor defense and poor fortune.

*The 1985 New Jersey Nets came close, allowing 60 points to Bernard King (New York Knicks) and 59 to Purvis Short (Golden State Warriors).

Moreover, Charlotte could become just the fifth team since 1963-64 to allow a season’s two highest-scoring games.

2014 Charlotte Bobcats

  • 62 – Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
  • 61 – LeBron James, Miami Heat

2009 New York Knicks

  • 61 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • 55 – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

1998 Golden State Warriors

  • 56 – Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
  • 50 – Tracy Murray, Washington Wizards

1983 Chicago Bulls

  • 57 – Adrian Dantley, Utah Jazz
  • 56 – Kelly Tripucka, Detroit Pistons

1967 Cincinnati Royals

  • 58 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
  • 57 – Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors

But unlike those other four teams, the Bobcats are actually good defensively. Here’s how each ranked in defensive rating out of the number of teams in the league that year:

  • 2014 CHA: 6/30
  • 2009 NYK: 23/30
  • 1998 GSW: 20/29
  • 1991 DEN: 27/27
  • 1983 CHI: 18/23
  • 1967 CIN: 9/10

The Bobcats are on pace to make just their second playoff appearance ever, and it’s because their defense is carrying them. Playing proud nearly every game, Charlotte just does not fit the profile of a team to get torched twice like this.

However, Charlotte’s biggest strength is grabbing defensive rebounds. When LeBron and Melo aren’t missing, that means only so much.