The Chicago Bulls don't have to think back far to remember just how lethal Cleveland's LeBron James can be.
James will be looking to build off one of the best performances of his career when his Cavaliers face the Bulls for the second time this week Thursday night at the United Center.
James had 50 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in Wednesday's 119-105 victory at New York. The 50-point performance was the fifth of James' career and was two points shy of the biggest-scoring effort of the season, posted by the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant Sunday against Dallas.
"I've dreamed about playing well in this building and it's overtaken of how I could ever dream about," James said, referring to New York's Madison Square Garden. "To get a standing ovation in the greatest basketball arena in the world, it was a dream come true for me. It's one of the best things that's ever happened to me."
James, who leads the NBA with 30.6 points per game, shot 16-of-30 from the field, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range. He became the first player with at least 50 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Jan. 19, 1975.
"You can't take it for granted because he's that good. He's just a great player," coach Mike Brown said. "I try not to because coaching a guy like that, working with a guy like that, it's probably a once in a lifetime deal. You just try to take advantage of every second that you're with him."
James, who led the Cavaliers (35-26) to their third straight win and sixth in eight games, was coming off a 37-point effort in Sunday's 95-86 home win over the Bulls (24-36). James, who has averaged 28.2 points in 17 career games against the Bulls, including 34.5 in his last four, scored six points in a key stretch late in the game.
Sunday's meeting was the first this season between the teams, who were involved in a three-team, 11-player trade on Feb. 21. The Cavaliers sent Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown to the Bulls and Chicago moved Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to Cleveland.
"I know how other teams feel, being on the other end of that stick," said Gooden, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds in his first game against James and the Cavs. "It's always about trying to stop LeBron in the end."
The Cavaliers have won seven of nine against the Bulls, including three of four in Chicago.
Cleveland is fourth in the Eastern Conference, while the Bulls are 10th, 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. Chicago won for the second time in six games on Tuesday, beating lowly Memphis 112-97.
Gooden and Luol Deng each scored 21 points for the Bulls, who led by 30 in the third quarter and withstood a Grizzlies' surge to avoid a second straight home collapse. Washington overcame a 20-point deficit in a 97-91 loss on Friday.
"Against Washington, we just weren't quite as sharp," said Kirk Hinrich, who had 19 points, 12 assists and a career-high four blocks. "We ended up losing the game as a result of it. We did a good job staying sharp, but for whatever reason, tonight we were able to step back, get the game back under control and win the game."
Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas will serve the first game of a two-game suspension Thursday for missing Wednesday's practice.
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