James scores 52 at MSG

Published 4:11 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

Not quite Kobe Bryant. Definitely vintage LeBron James.

James scored a season-high 52 points in his 21st career triple-double, joined Michael Jordan as the only visitors with multiple 50-point games at the present Madison Square Garden, and led Cleveland to a 107-102 victory over New York on Wednesday night.

Two nights after Bryant set a record at the present building with 61 points, James was on pace to break it after scoring 20 in the first quarter.

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His scoring eventually tailed off a bit, especially after he briefly left the game in the fourth quarter after cramping up, but the skills that make him perhaps the NBA’s premier all-around player remained throughout.

‘‘I don’t go out there for the numbers, I just play my game,’’ James said. ‘‘You guys seen every phase of my game tonight, the scoring, the rebounding, the assists and defensively just trying to attack the opposing team.

‘‘I never thought you could look at the box score and see somebody with 50 with a triple-double, but it’s happened.’’

James added 11 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to have a triple-double in a 50-point game. James grabbed his final rebound with under 2 seconds left, then tumbled out of bounds as time expired.