NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Durant and Harden both explode but to different results

NBA results: November 27, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks (107) – Charlotte Hornets (110)

Minnesota Timberwolves (102) – Cleveland Cavaliers (95)

Houston Rockets (131) – Washington Wizards (135)

San Antonio Spurs (108) – Chicago Bulls (107)

Boston Celtics (124) – New Orleans Pelicans (107)

Indiana Pacers (121) – Utah Jazz (88)

Orlando Magic (110) – Golden State Warriors (116)

Three things that happened in the NBA today

1. Kevin Durant scored 49 and won

Remember when everyone said Kevin Durant couldn’t close? That felt like ages ago. Since then Kevin Durant has been averaging 41.6 points on 53% shooting. With Durant on a hot streak, the Warriors have strung up three straight wins. In their latest win, Durant topped his 44 point explosion over the Sacramento Kings and hung 49 on Orlando.

The Warriors needed every bit of Durant’s production to get past the pesky Magic. Orlando took an 18-point lead in the first half and were up by 17 heading into halftime. It looked like the Warriors’ winning streak would be short-lived.

Durant got rolling on both ends of the floor in the second half. He carried the Warriors offensively. He had nine assists to go with his 49 points. Bigger than the scoring was KD’s production on defense. He finished with two blocks and two steals.

Durant’s running mate during this stretch, Klay Thompson played a key role as well. He scored 29 points to help the Finals MVP in their comeback run. Thompson nailed a three-pointer to tie the game with under two minutes left on the clock.

It was Durant that closed the game with an and-one bucket and a dagger trey to put the game away.

2. James Harden scored 54 and lost

There was a time when James Harden dropping 50 on an opponent meant an easy win for the Rockets. But tonight wasn’t one of those night. Headband Harden was electric in the game against the Wizards. He had 54 points and 13 assists, leading the Rockets offense in every way possible.

Early on, it seemed like one of those nights where Harden would single-handedly tow his team to the win. The Rockets took an early 17 points lead in the first period and were in control of the game at that point. But the Rockets’ lack of depth was exposed in the latter parts of the game.

With Chris Paul out, the Rockets relied on just Harden and Eric Gordon. In the fourth quarter, when the Houston needed to close out the game, they were overly reliant on Harden and Gordon and the two couldn’t deliver.

The Wizards on the other hand showcased their depth. In the second quarter it was John Wall and Otto Porter that led the Washington comeback. In OT, it was also the two that scored the crucial baskets that gave the Wizards enough separation to seal the win.

John Wall finished with 36 points and 11 assists shredding the Houston defense to try and match Harden’s output.

Wall’s back court partner Bradley Beal also put points on the board he dropped 32 points to help Wall offset Harden’s 54.

Porter had 14 points, Markieff Morris had 22 and Jeff Green had 13.

The NBA scoring boom has been awesome. But it’s also dulled the effect of high-scoring games from superstars. Kemba Walker exploded for 60 in a loss. Harden’s 54 was also wasted on a loss. It seems like it will take a ridiculous amount of scoring from the entire team to keep up with the rest of the league’s explosive output.

3. Boston Celtics finally get their offense going

Boston’s offense in their 10-10 start has been one of the worst in the league. They ranked 27th in offense and have failed to put up 110 points in 13 of their first 20 games. The Celtics missed the memo on the league’s uptick in scoring.

They fell to .500 in the first 20 games of the season and needed a big win to snap them out of their funk. It looked like the Celtics got that win over the Pelicans.

Boston scored a season-high 124 points. They shot 49% from the field and hit 19 three-pointers at a 48% clip. Three players scored at least 20 points led by 26 from Kyrie Irving. Jayson Tatum and Al Horford scored 20 points each. Marcus Morris scored 19 points while Terry Rozier added 14 off the bench.

This is more of the offense that Boston needs this season. More balanced scoring. More threes. Better efficiency and less long twos.

Photos from Getty Images