(Reuters) - Miami's LeBron James, wearing a protective mask to shield his broken nose, plundered a career-high 61 points in the Heat's 124-107 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.

James, who sustained the injury late last month, drained 22 of his 33 shots. The four-time MVP scored 24 points at halftime and poured in another 25 in the third quarter alone, while making his first eight three-pointers.

The outburst surpassed is previous career high of 56 points set back in 2005 when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It also fell one point short of Carmelo Anthony's NBA season-high of 62.

The Miami crowd at American Airlines Arena showered James with cheers as he strengthened his case for another MVP in a two-man race between himself and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Peter Rutherford) nL3N0M116P