Trae Young scores career-high, but Hawks fall in four overtimes

Hawks guard Trae Young (11) makes a pass as Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 1, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Hawks guard Trae Young (11) makes a pass as Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 1, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Credit: John Amis

Credit: John Amis

Trae Young is building a legacy with one big shot, one rare performance after another.

As the Hawks rookie does so, he is accomplishing feats that only the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James have done so early in a career.

Young scored a career-high 49 points with 16 assists and eight rebounds in 56 minutes only to have the Hawks come up short in a thrilling 168-161, four-overtime loss to the Bulls on Friday night at State Farm Arena.

Young is the first rookie in NBA history to post at least 45 points and 15 assists in a single game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Young scored or assisted on 86 points for the Hawks, the most by a rookie in NBA history. His 49 points were the most by a Hawks player this season, and the most by any rookie in the league this season. The only other rookies to post at least 40 points and 10 assists in a game in the past 40 years were Jordan and James.

Good company.

Zach LaVine’s driving layup in the fourth overtime put the Bulls up 166-161 with just over 30 seconds to play, enough of a lead to finally subdue the Hawks. LaVine had his own career high of 47 points with nine rebounds and nine assists in 56 minutes. Besides Young, six Hawks finished in double figures, led by Alex Len with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawks played without an ill John Collins.

Otto Porter scored 31 points and had 10 boards, and Lauri Markkanen added 31 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls.

“That was a fun game to play in, probably one of the most fun games I’ve played in my career,” Young said. “We were going through things. I’m proud of the way we fought, even though we came up short.”

Young’s performance came on the day he was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the third time this season. He has set or tied a career high in points in each of his past three games.

Young made big shot after big shot Friday. He became only the fourth player in the past 20 years to make two game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the last five seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime, per ESPN Stats and Info.

Clutch met clutch at the end of regulation. After coming back from down 97-84 in the fourth quarter, the Hawks thought they had the last possession with the score tied at 121-121. Young isolated at the top of the key and made what looked to be a game-winning step-back 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in the game.

On the following possession, Dewayne Dedmon fouled Porter on a prayer of a 3-point shot, a crucial mistake that sent Porter to the line for three shots. With the arena as loud as it got the entire game, the 77 percent free-throw shooter converted all three to send the game to overtime tied at 124-124.

At the end of the first overtime, the Bulls had a chance to ice the game, up two with a 10-second difference in the game and shot clocks. LaVine ended up one-on-one with Len, who made a great defensive play and blocked LaVine’s driving shot.

Young picked up the ball with less than 10 seconds left and no timeouts, drove straight down the court to make a layup and tie the score 140-140 with 1.0 seconds left and force a second overtime period.

The Bulls’ Ryan Arcidiacono forced a third overtime with a corner 3-pointer with 25.1 seconds left to tie the score at 147-147. LaVine forced a fourth overtime with a layup with 1:06 left the third overtime to tie the score at 155-155.

Young said that his record-setting night might just be the tip of the iceberg.

“I didn’t shoot 100 percent. I didn’t make all the right plays. I missed two free throws. I had nine turnovers. I definitely could’ve been better. The scary thing is that I can still play better,” he said.

Young scored 29 of his points in the fourth quarter (18) and first overtime (11). He was 17-of-33 from the field, including 6-of-13 from 3-point range.

Vince Carter has seen Young’s development, and believes that it has to do with overcoming adversity.

“Everything’s starting to slow down for him and everything’s starting to make sense for him.

“This is my opinion, but the best thing that happened to him was the struggle in the beginning (of the season) ... Now, he’s reaping the benefit of it. It’s been a blessing in disguise. Maybe he doesn’t see it, or his fans, but what it’s done for him now has been unreal,” Carter said.

Carter played a season-high 45 minutes and contributed 13 points for the undermanned Hawks. The throwback performance marked Carter’s 1,463rd NBA appearance, enough to take him past Kevin Garnett for sole possession of sixth-most in league history. In addition to the loss of Collins, Omari Spellman left the game in regulation with a lower leg injury, and Dedmon and Taurean Prince fouled out in overtime.

Young came close to the franchise record for points a game, with 57, set up Dominique Wilkins (twice) and Lou Hudson. Young’s 49 points were the most by a Hawks player since Wilkins scored 52 points against the Knicks in 1991.

With 329 points, Friday’s matchup was the third-highest scoring game in NBA history, and the highest since 1983. The Bulls’ 168 points and the Hawks’ 161 points both were franchise single-game highs.

The last time a Bulls player and a Hawks player both scored at least 40 points in the same game, the players were Jordan and Wilkins.

“There’s really no winner in this one, no loser in this one,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Four overtimes, you’re just scrambling, and somebody’s got to go down.”

It was the fourth 4OT game the Hawks have played in NBA history. It’s the first time they have lost a game that extended that far after winning games against the Knicks, Jazz and SuperSonics.

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