James Harden is a star in the NBA. He has led his team, the Houston Rockets, to back-to-back Western Conference Finals appearances and was awarded MVP honors during those seasons. Not only does he have an exceptional skill set on offense but defense as well with 1 steal per game for his career.
James Harden broke out with 16 free throws and 29 points in a win against the Brooklyn Nets.
NEW YORK (WABC) — James Harden was in his element Friday night, dribbling, creating space, draining 3s, and yelling out during a timeout while clenching his fists and stretching his arms that he was beginning to feel more like himself.
Harden was also finally back at the free throw line, something he is quite familiar with. Harden went 16-for-19 from the line and scored a season-high 29 points to go with eight assists and eight rebounds in the Nets’ 105-98 victory against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center after going to the line a total of 15 times in his first five games.
After a sluggish start and averaging 16.6 points before Friday, this was by far Harden’s finest game of the season.
“Obviously, it wasn’t 30,” Harden acknowledged on Wednesday, admitting that his body and skills aren’t nearly at the place where he can score 30 or 40 points each night. “I keep repeating it — every single game, I feel good, I feel better today, I keep working on off days and non-game days, and I keep getting to the hoop and shooting my shots on game days.”
“Nothing will change. Things will eventually settle down to the point where it is consistent and I am out there playing [like] myself.”
Harden has become the “poster boy” for this season’s rule revisions, according to Nets coach Steve Nash, who believes Harden has been unjustly singled out for “overt, sudden, or unorthodox non-basketball movements” by ball handlers attempting to draw fouls.
Harden has not gone to the line more than four times in a game this season before to Friday’s contest. However, he went to the line nine times in the second quarter alone against the Pacers, scoring 13 points.
This was the 72nd game in his career in which Harden hit at least 15 free throws, the most in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
Harden said, “It was just me being aggressive.” “I wasn’t really aggressive in the first two of games. In spurts, I was aggressive, but I was just aiming to be aggressive for four quarters. Whether it was going to the hoop or taking my shots, I had that burst, that quickness of getting to my places. For the duration of the game, I felt very decent.”
Kevin Durant had 18 of his 22 points at halftime, compared to Harden’s 21 points in the first half. In the first half, they combined for 39 points, the most they’ve ever scored as Nets teammates.
The Nets, on the other hand, were lucky to have Durant available late in the game. With 4:40 left in the third quarter, Durant blasted the basketball into the bleachers after play was halted due to a foul while he was driving.
After the game, crew chief Sean Wright informed a pool reporter that the official who made the call didn’t believe the ball entered the stands with force in real time.
“We saw the ball go into the stands with power after viewing the footage postgame,” Wright added. “Kevin Durant should have been ejected as well.”
Durant said he was attempting to strike the backboard and that he shouldn’t have done so.
“I don’t know, dude,” Durant said of his lapse. “I thought I was in the gym by myself, in a pickup game, not an NBA game.” “And I’m not capable of doing so. It’s possible that I cost my team the game. But, hopefully, that won’t happen again.”
Durant said, ” “I had no idea you could be expelled for that. I’m pleased I didn’t drop out. I’m sure there will be a huge fine, but I’m not opposed to paying it.”
LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up for the Nets in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 21 points to help Brooklyn hold off a tenacious Pacers club.
Along with Harden and Durant, the 16-year veteran became the 48th player to achieve 20,000 career points and the seventh current player to do it. It was a goal Aldridge didn’t believe he’d be able to achieve after retiring in April due to an abnormal heartbeat. He has received medical clearance to play this season.
“Man, that feels great,” Aldridge remarked. “This is a real gift. After what occurred last year, I didn’t believe it was going to happen. Sticked with it, fell back, and it felt great to finish it and go back out there. I’m just grateful.”
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