About Last Night
About Last Night: Kyrie comes through, Harden's back-to-back 50
Kyrie realizes burdens of being the leader, Harden's 58 aren't enough and we're Back ... To The Future
Ben Couch, NBA.com
Remember Wednesday morning, when we were still trying to figure out whether the Celtics were in crisis?
Kyrie Irving would like to have a word:
That, ah … expressive moment came after he nailed a dagger three over Kawhi Leonard in the final two minutes of a 117-108 victory over Eastern Conference power Toronto. The emphatic win, which came during a maladroit stretch for the Celtics, served notice that — on this night or any night to come after April — they’re not to be quickly dismissed from the contending conversation.
And we might have LeBron to thank. Really.
After the game, Irving admitted he called his former teammate for advice, having realized he knew no one more familiar with the responsibility of leading young players toward their championship aspirations.
“He’s been in the situation,” said Irving, who scored 27 points and dished out a career-best 18 assists. “[LeBron’s] been there with me being the young guy, a 22-year-old kid and wanting to have everything, and wanting everything right now.”
(For the record: They’re good, him and ‘Bron. Irving said so.)
One game doesn’t prove the Celtics are all the way out of what, at times, has felt like a season-long rut. But, considering the competition and stakes in the moment, it’s tough to undersell the impact. Seasons slip away fast. At the very least, Boston’s found purchase for a next step.
We’ll soon find out if it’s a foot planted forward. Even if they regress, not sure I’d recommend any Eastern opponent start lining up a seed to see them in seven.
Against the Nets on Wednesday, James Harden scored 30-plus for the Rockets … again. (Yawn. Somehow a yawn. SMH.) His streak of 18 straight ties Elgin Baylor for fifth-most all-time, behind Wilt (20), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Wilt (31) and Wilt (65).
But he didn’t stop there as Harden scored 50-plus … again. Back-to-back games! He’s the only NBA player to achieve the feat since 2008, and he’s now done it twice (previously Dec. 20 & 22, 2017). Wednesday’s 58-point season-high marks four 50s on this iteration of the schedule, most in a single season since Kobe dropped 10 half-centurys in 2006-07. Overall, it’s 13 for the career books, one ahead of LeBron among the active elite.
And yet, Harden’s night ended in frustration after slights both personal:
… and of the team variety. Houston coughed up a 13-point lead in the final 4 minutes of regulation, then faded in overtime after opening a seven-point margin, as both teams combined to launch an NBA record 106 3-point attempts.
NOTE: Spencer Dinwiddie is a bad man.
Also in the Celtics game tonight, Jayson Tatum earned a lot of shine for debuting the Nike HyperAdapt BB, an auto-lacing shoe that has essentially been in development for the 30 years since “Back to the Future Part II” was released in 1989.
Jayson Tatum debuting the Nike Adapt BB — plus some fresh ink. pic.twitter.com/CkMxWcZXtT
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) January 17, 2019
Nike announced the release with a social media video that shows off the app-based motor technology. Tatum said pregame “they fit like a glove” and reaction on the electric Twitter machine was … varied.
People got jokes. And the want. And the get off my lawn. No surprises there.
Should note that Tatum wasn’t the only one either. Guess which mega-hyped rookie got in the mix? (You don’t need to guess.)
— 🏀 #NBAKicks 👟 (@NBAKicks) January 17, 2019
Efficiency & excess 3s
Yet the most efficient line of the night might have belonged to center Jusuf Nurkic, who posted his first triple-double with 10 points (3-6 FGs, 4-4 FTs), 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 blocks for good measure.
Also, here’s Steph hitting nine 3-pointers as part of a league-record 43 combined makes in the Warriors’ 147-140 victory over the Pelicans:
He finished with 41 points (11-12 FGs, 9-17 3Ps) to best Anthony Davis (30 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks) in a battle of not-Harden Kia MVP candidates. Eight-or-more 3-pointers, three games in a row? Also a record.
When keeping it real goes wrong
Ersan. Ersannnnnnn. This was not the time to go for the charge. No hustle points arrive along with that poster.