NEW ORLEANS (AP) — LeBron James scored 36 points, hitting six consecutive 3-pointers in less than six minutes during the first half, and the Miami Heat rebounded from their first loss in nearly two months to beat the New Orleans Hornets 108-89 on Friday night.
The Heat, whose 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago on Wednesday, looked ready to start a new one while clinching the top seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs. James kept shooting 3-pointers after making his first one with 1:55 left in the first quarter, and he did not miss until he already had set a season high with his sixth.
James finished with seven 3s, one shy of his career high. Dwyane Wade added 17 points and seven assists. Norris Cole scored 12 points and Chris Bosh 10.
Ryan Anderson had 20 points off the bench for the Hornets. Eric Gordon scored 17, and Al-Farouq Aminu tied his career high with 16 rebounds.
After his fifth 3, which gave the Heat a 42-27 lead, James walked by himself along the side of the court, raising his arm over his head to ask for applause, which he received along with a smattering of boos.
Most of the 3s were face-up shots from a few feet behind the arc when no one challenged him, respecting his driving ability. The last was a pull-up from the side with no space, as if he wanted to find out exactly how hot he was.
Nothing but net.
He finally missed two in a row on the Heat’s next possession, but by then they already led 47-27.
James also hit a pair of 2-pointers during the torrid stretch, scoring a season-high 28 points in the first half as Miami went ahead 60-43. His teammates were nearly as hot. The Heat shot a season-best 69.7 percent for any half, hitting 23 of 33 shots, and their 60.9 percent for the game was their highest of the year, too, and the highest allowed by the Hornets.
Miami made 14 of 27 3-pointers.
Miami led by as much as 27 points in the second half, and New Orleans never came closer than the halftime margin of 17. James was content to distribute, throwing a perfect pass to Bosh for an alley-oop that capped a 10-2 run at the start of the third quarter.
The Hornets were up 11-9 when rookie Anthony Davis drove the baseline and lost the ball on the way up for what would have been an uncontested dunk. He was called for traveling when he retrieved it on the other side of the rim, and nothing went right for New Orleans the rest of the way.
Bosh banked in a shot unintentionally to the score at 11. Wade put the Heat ahead for good with two free throws. Ray Allen sank a turnaround from the baseline. Bosh faked an outside shot and drove for an easy layup.
Miami already led 25-15 when James took over.
New Orleans, playing without starting point guard Greivis Vasquez for the second time in three games, committed 19 turnovers. Rookie Brian Roberts, who doubled his career high with 18 assists in place of Vasquez on Monday, had only five this time. Davis was in foul trouble early, scoring 11 points.
NOTES: Heat point guard Mario Chalmers missed his first game of the season with a sprained right ankle, with Mike Miller replacing him in the starting lineup. “His (Chalmers’) injury isn’t a major concern right now, but his ankle is a bit swollen and we want to stay proactive and give him a rest tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow.” . Vasquez tried to return against the Clippers on Wednesday but was ineffective, going scoreless and missing both of his shots while playing 28 minutes. . The previous high shooting percentage for a Hornets opponent was .580 by Minnesota on Feb. 2.