Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden comes out with 16 free throws, 29 victory points


NEW YORK – James Harden was in his sack on Friday night, dribbling, creating space, draining 3s and letting everyone know he was starting to feel more of himself as he screamed during a downtime while clenching your fists and flexing your arms.

Harden was also finally back to a place he knows well – the free throw line. After hitting the line a total of 15 times in his first five games, Harden went 16 for 19 on the strip and scored a high 29 points to go with eight assists and eight rebounds to help the Brooklyn Nets to take a 105-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center.

It was, by far, the best game of the season for Harden after a slow start and averaging 16.6 points on Friday.

“It wasn’t 30, obviously,” said Harden, who admitted Wednesday that his body and his game aren’t quite to the point where he can score 30 or 40 points a night. “I keep saying it – with every game I feel good, I feel better today, I continue to work on the days off and on the days without a game, and on match days I continue to work. ‘go to the basket and shoot my shots.

“Nothing is going to change. Eventually things will get to where it makes sense and I’m out there playing. [like] myself.”

Earlier this week, Nets coach Steve Nash said he believed Harden had unfairly become the “spokesperson” for this season’s rule changes, with officials cracking down on “overt, sudden or abnormal moves non-basketball “ball carriers seeking to attract fouls.

Before Friday night, Harden hadn’t gone to the line more than four times in a game this season. But against the Pacers, he went to the line nine times in just the second quarter, when he scored 13 points.

It was the 72nd game of his career in which Harden made at least 15 free throws, the most in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“It was just me who was aggressive,” said Harden. “The first two games, I wasn’t aggressive. I was aggressive in spurts, but I was just trying to be aggressive for four quarters. I had that burst, that speed to get to my spots, that I reach for the basket or shoot my shots. I felt pretty good there for a whole game. “

While Harden scored 21 points in the first half, Kevin Durant had 18 of his 22 points at the half. Their 39 points combined was the most they’ve scored as Nets teammates in the first half.

The Nets, however, were fortunate enough to have Durant available in the fourth quarter. After play was stopped for a foul while Durant was driving, he shot the basketball into the stands with 4:40 left in the third quarter.

Team manager Sean Wright told a reporter at the pool after the game that in real time the official who called did not believe the ball had forcibly entered the stands.

“After seeing the post-match video, we saw the ball hit the stands with force,” said Wright. “And Kevin Durant should have been kicked out.”

Durant said he was trying to hit the back panel and shouldn’t have.

“I don’t know, man. I thought I was in the gym on my own and in a pickup game, not an NBA game,” Durant said of his failure. “And I can’t do that. I could have cost my team the game. But it won’t happen again – I hope.”

Durant added: “I had no idea you could be kicked out because of it. I’m glad I stayed in the game. I’m sure a hefty fine is coming, but I don’t mind. to give.”

LaMarcus Aldridge helped take over for the Nets, scoring nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to help Brooklyn contain a pesky Pacers team.

The 16-year-old veteran became the 48th player to reach 20,000 career points and the seventh active player to do so, joining Harden and Durant. It was a milestone Aldridge didn’t expect to reach after retiring in April due to an irregular heartbeat. He has been medically cleared to return this season.

“It feels good, man,” Aldridge said. “A real blessing. I certainly didn’t think this would happen after what happened last year. Stuck with it, step back and I felt really good doing it and being back. simply blessed. “

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