The Atlanta Hawks gave a valiant effort against the Houston Rockets before falling 119-111. Despite the loss, they managed to stop James Harden’s consecutive 30 point scoring streak.
The NBA world had its eyes on Houston, as the Atlanta Hawks visited the Houston Rockets. Rockets superstar and reigning MVP James Harden, was looking to continue his 32 game consecutive streak of scoring 30 or more points. The Hawks had other ideas and set their sights on stopping Harden, who entered the contest leading the entire NBA in scoring. Incredibly he entered the matchup averaging more than 36 points per game.
The streak came down to the wire with the Houston Rockets getting the ball with less than 24 seconds left. James Harden had 28 points at that juncture, as he dribbled the ball up court quickly with the crowd urging him to shoot the basketball. In a classy gesture, Harden elected to dribble the clock out, as is customary when a team has the lead and the shot clock is turned off late in a game, rather than take a shot and attempt to preserve the streak.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN has the story of the streak ending in this article. When asked about his star showing class at the end of the game, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni offered this perspective:
"“You guys probably would’ve killed him on Twitter, right?” D’Antoni said, laughing. “It was self-preservation. That was smart. I don’t know about having class. That was smart.”"
The game was a struggle for James Harden. He returned to the lineup having missed one game with a neck strain and an illness. He shot a meager 7-21 from the field, and missed all ten of his shot attempts from three-point range. If not for him making 12-14 free thow attempts, Harden would have had an extremely low scoring game. The Bearded One also struggled to hold on to the basketball, turning the ball over a game high nine times. Kent Bazemore played great defense when assigned to Harden, but he certainly had help from his swarming teammates.
James Harden’s consecutive 30 point scoring streak ends at 32 games. It is the second longest streak of its kind in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain who had an unreal 65 games in a row of scoring at least 30. Despite the end of the streak Harden leads the NBA by the widest margin in many years, averaging 36.3 points per game. Paul George the NBA’s second leading scorer with 28.7 points per game, trails Harden by nearly 8 points.
When asked by ESPN about the streak ending, Harden didn’t seem upset at all, offering this take:
"“It was cool,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get to No. 1.”"
While most of the basketball world was focused on the streak, Atlanta Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young stole the show, despite Atlanta losing the ballgame. He was incredible all night, scoring a career high 36 points and dishing out eight assists. Trae also made a career high eight three-point baskets. He was absolutely unconscious from long-range, making 8-12 from the outside. Most of Trae Young’s three-point shots were from way downtown, meaning Young was several feet behind the three-point line.
Overall Young made 12-23 shots from the field and all four of his free thow attempts. He also had some incredible passes to his teammates for easy baskets, as Atlanta Hawks fans have now grown accustomed to, while racking up the eight assists. Kit Anderson of Atl All Day offers more on the brilliant performance by Trae Young here. The Atlanta Hawks tweeted out this tantalizing highlight package from last night’s defeat:
The full game highlights via the official NBA YouTube account are certainly worth a watch as well:
Rather than hit a rookie wall, Trae Young is playing better and better as the season goes along. He’s been great with his passing all season long, but is now doing a much better job at limiting turnovers. He’s also been shooting the ball so much better, after a slow start in November. Bleacher Report gave these stats in a tweet, showing just how incredible Young has been since the All Star break:
Trae Young himself promised to keep putting pressure on his opponents in this tweet:
Second year forward and budding star John Collins was also fantastic against Houston. He put up another double-double, netting 20 points and 12 rebounds. He was super efficient, making 7-10 shots and his only three-point attempt. He also made 5-7 free throws. Collins and Young are becoming quite the dynamic duo. They will look to help the Hawks get back on track this Wednesday February 27, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The game is here in Atlanta at State Farm Arena. With these two young talented players at the forefront of the Atlanta Hawks rebuild, every game is now must see TV.