ATLANTA — Trae Young didn’t attribute his first 50-point game to confidence gained from his first All-Star start.
Belief in himself has never been a problem for the high-scoring guard with a fondness for 30-foot jumpers.
Young had a career-high 50 points and the Atlanta Hawks scored the last 10 points of the game to beat the Miami Heat 129-124 on Thursday night.
Young made 18 of 19 free throws and 8 of 15 3-pointers to set his scoring high in his first game after starting in the NBA All-Star Game.
“I’ve always had confidence in myself,” Young said when asked if he was boosted by the All-Star Game experience.
Young scored 20 points in the final period. It was the third time this season Young scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, breaking a tie with Bulls guard Zach LaVine for the most 20-point fourth quarters this season.
“A big game from our leader,” Atlanta’s John Collins said. “We got some big plays from our big-time guy.”
The Heat had no answer for Young’s barrage of 3-pointers, many from well beyond the line.
“He just got into such an incredible rhythm,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s pulling up from 6 feet behind the line. … There’s not a lot of things you can do about that.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, only three players in NBA history have scored 50 points at a younger age than Young: Devin Booker, LeBron James (who had three such performances) and Brandon Jennings.
Young also broke a tie with Shaquille O’Neal for most 40-point games by a player in his first two seasons in the league since the 1976-77 merger with his 11th such game.
The performance was a bit of redemption for Young, who in December prematurely celebrated what he thought was a sure win over the Heat by proclaiming, “It’s over!” before the Hawks promptly blew a six-point lead in the final minute and lost in overtime.
Young acknowledged the mistake at the time, but that didn’t stop Heat star Jimmy Butler from taking a jab at him on social media, posting, “This man @traeyoung is a teller of the future. he was right. game WAS over!”
Young didn’t forget Thursday night.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) February 21, 2020
Bam Adebayo had 28 points and a season-high 19 rebounds for Miami. Adebayo, the NBA All-Star skills champion, also had seven assists.
Miami couldn’t hold a 124-119 lead. After De’Andre Hunter’s tying 3-pointer, Cam Reddish scored with 31 seconds left following his steal from Goran Dragic to give the Hawks a 126-124 lead. Young’s two free throws increased the lead to four points.
Kevin Huerter and Hunter each scored 17 points for Atlanta.
Young hit a jumper for Atlanta’s first field goal of the final period. On the Hawks’ next possession, Young’s crossover dribble had Andre Iguodala on his heels, and Young then sank a long 3-pointer to tie the score at 97.
“He’s shooting 50-footers,” Adebayo said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to live with that.”
With Hawks fans still buzzing after watching Young’s knee-buckling fake on replays during a timeout, Iguodala answered with back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer, as Miami reclaimed the lead.
Young wasn’t finished. He kept the Hawks close by scoring 14 of Atlanta’s first 18 points of the final period. Young’s three-point play tied the score at 119.
Miami led 36-32 after the first period before a shooting drought in the second quarter as Atlanta took the lead with a 15-0 run. After trailing 41-37, Atlanta led 52-41 after the run, capped by Hunter’s 3-pointer.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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