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Trae Young Enters History Books in 4OT Thriller Vs. Bulls
Story by KL Chouinard
Head coach Lloyd Pierce set a high bar for Trae Young at practice Thursday.
"You're going to see a 20-assist game from Trae, I guarantee you," Pierce said.
Trae Young did not reach that lofty threshold Friday night in the Hawks' 168-161 loss to the Chicago Bulls, but he may have done something even more rare. In playing 56 minutes in a game that went to four overtimes, Young tallied an incredible 49 points, 16 assists and 8 rebounds.
The 49 points were the most points scored by a rookie in an NBA game this season, breaking the mark of 36 that Young set twice in the past two games and shared with Jaren Jackson, Jr. Young also helped the Hawks set a franchise record for points scored in a single game with 161.
On a night filled with superlatives, the most jaw-dropping sequence may have been the sequence of plays that Young made to take over the game with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Trailing by six, Young spotted Otto Porter dribbling with his head down, swooped in for a steal and a fast-break layup. On the next possession, he ran a pick-and-roll with Dewayne Dedmon and lofted an incredibly soft pass to set Dedmon up for a layup. Then after a heads-up Dedmon steal, Young sprinted down the floor to hit a pullup three that put the Hawks ahead for the first time in the second half.
Two minutes later, Young hit the most memorable shot of the night.
With the game tied and the final seconds of regulation ticking away, Young patiently tested the waters, crossing left and right with his dribble before stepping back for a long three on an impossibly quick release. It swished through with 2.2 seconds left.
"We just tried to tag-team (Trae) a bit," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said afterward, "the same thing we used to do when I was in San Antonio anytime we were going against Steph Curry. Put fresh guys on him, move guys around on him – but he just played great. He was all-pro tonight."
The Bulls countered at the end of regulation with an Otto Porter three-point attempt on which he was fouled. Porter hit all three free throws to force the first of four overtimes. For the evening, Porter finished with 31 points while teammate Zach LaVine scored a career-high 47 points. LaVine salted away the win for Chicago with a crafty layup late in the fourth overtime.
Young entered elite company on a number of statistical fronts, per Hawks PR:
- Young joined James Harden as just the second player in NBA history to post a stat line that included 49-or-more points and 16-or-more assists
- Young joined LeBron James and Michael Jordan as the only rookies in the last 40 years to compile 40-or-more points and 10-or-more assists in a game.
- Young is the just the fourth rookie since the ABA-NBA merger to score 35 or more points in at least three straight games. The others are Bernard King, Michael Jordan, and Allen Iverson.
Young was not the only Hawk to make a big contribution. Alex Len had 24 points and 10 rebounds, including a number of key plays in the overtime sessions. Dewayne Dedmon had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. But the most important input may have come from the team's resident quadragenarian.
42-year-old Vince Carter played 45 minutes while scoring 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds for the shorthanded Hawks. John Collins missed the game due to illness and Omari Spellman twisted an ankle in the second half, leaving Carter as the team's go-to power forward for unthinkably long stretches of the game. Carter delivered big plays in the third extra session, hitting a three-pointer late and drawing a charge on LaVine with 1.0 second left to force the fourth overtime.
By the game's end, Carter's stunning fake-and-go fourth-quarter dunk felt like it had occurred two weeks prior. It wasn't far off; Carter played all of the nine-plus minutes of regulation that followed his dunk, plus 18 of the 20 minutes of overtime.
"I was surprised Vince played that long," LaVine said after the game. "I was talking to him, and I said ‘How are you still walking? I’m barely walking. I don’t know how you’re walking.’"
Carter demurred at any suggestion that he might not be available to play when the same two teams meet again Sunday afternoon. Would Carter be able to figure out a way to rest and recuperate for a rematch 39 hours later?
"Why not?" Carter said with shrug and a grin after emerging from the cold tub after midnight. "Why not?"
Rookie Kevin Huerter, who scored 15 points, had a considerably less sanguine outlook on playing 1.5 games of basketball in a single evening.
"I've never played in a four-overtime game," he deadpanned. "I don't want to again."