The Brooklyn Nets survived an offensive onslaught from Houston Rockets star James Harden, who set back-to-back career-high scoring efforts with a 58-point overtime performance following his 57 against the Memphis Grizzlies two days prior.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson marveled at the scoring monster Harden has become over the last few games, combining a barreling driving style with a lethal step-back move that leads to buckets in one way or another.
“I’m speechless how good he is,” said Atkinson, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “It changed everything, how you coach. We’re doing things we’ve never done before, he’s changing the way the game is played. He’s revolutionary.”
Harden once again paraded to the free-throw line, making 21 of his 23 attempts, all while managing to tee up 19 3-point attempts, making only five of them (26.3 percent).
The Beard’s insane scoring average is a direct byproduct of the ultimate green light from Mike D’Antoni, who has given his star full rein in the midst of key absences in the lineup with a sidelined Chris Paul and Clint Capela.
Harden has attempted 30 or more field goals in six of the team’s eight games since the start of the year, and 11 times total through 41 games this season.
Like many other teams playing the Rockets have realized, defenders only have two choices against Harden: foul him or hope he doesn’t score.
Fortunately for the Nets, his new career high of 58 points was spoiled by a brilliantly clutch performance from Spencer Dinwiddie, who made each of his team-high 33 points count down the stretch.