NBA rule changes: James Harden shrugs off early struggles with dominant half against Pacers

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The first five games of the 2021-22 season have been a struggle for James Harden, especially when it comes to his individual offensive production.

He only averaged 16.6 points, including a season-high of just 20 points, with the biggest dip in his game coming in his ability to draw fouls courtesy the NBA’s new officiating rules.

Through five games, he’s averaging a career-low in free-throw attempts per game at 3.0 and that’s after he averaged 10.2 over the previous nine seasons. 

MORE: NBA rule changes 2021, explained

Some of his attempts to draw a foul have looked ugly early this season, as referees have clamped down on those calls. Take a look at this thread from the Nets’ game on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat. 

Against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night ‘the Beard’ seemed to have found something with the whistle blowing his way, especially in the first half. 

He erupted for 21 points in the first half, already his season-high, while going 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. The 11 free-throw attempts are as many as he had recorded in the four previous games combined. 

At the final buzzer, with the Nets winning 105-98, Harden finished with 29 points on 16-of-19 shooting from the free-throw line.

The 19 attempts, the most Harden has attempted as a Net, are four more than the number of free-throw attempts in all of the previous games combined. 

Has he really found something or was this a one-off flash in the pan? Only time will tell as the season progresses.



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