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Do LeBron's 61 Points Forecast a Future Uptick?

By now, every basketball fan in the world is aware of LeBron James’s 61-point outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats last night. Add that to Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points against Charlotte—just six weeks ago—and it’s probably a good thing Charlotte is changing its team name back to the Hornets for next season.

LeBron joined Carmelo in sharing another feat: Both their big games were in the top five of shooting efficiency for all 60-point games since 1963.

LeBron’s game looks even better when you account for “adjusted” field-goal percentage, giving a higher weight to his 8-of-10 shooting from 3-point-range.

The question to ask is: “How likely is it that LeBron continues like this?” Is he officially on a hot streak, or will his output return to prior averages?

According to data compiled by Bloomberg Sports, the most recent 20 players to score 50 points in a game had entered those games averaging 25.3 points per game. In the game immediately following the 50-point outburst, those same players averaged 25.6 PPG. That’s more than a 1 percent improvement in scoring. If you take that out farther, their scoring was 27.3 PPG in the following three games (an 8 percent increase), and 26.0 PPG in the following five games (a 3 percent increase).

If you’re looking for LeBron to keep rolling, try to see him play in the next week.

Many thanks to colleagues Peter Stein and Rob Shaw at Bloomberg Sports, who provided the data for this article.

Chemi is head of research for Businessweek and Bloomberg TV.

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