Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson (21) during the first half of the game at United Center on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)
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Video | NBA Week’s Highlights: Butler Equals Jordan’s Record

There could have been no better way to begin 2017 than with Houston Rockets’ James Harden wreaking havoc on court.

Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler becomes the first since Michael Jordan to score over 50 points in a game at the United Center and the Lakers organization have fallen short by US$ 95,000.

Read all about it in the week that was in the NBA.

James Harden Tallies 53 in The Highest Scoring Triple Double

It is customary in some cultures to begin the year by giving presents to those you love. Houston Rockets’ Harden keeps that custom alive by putting on one of the greatest all round offensive displays in NBA history for NBA fans against the New York Knicks.

Only the great Wilt Chamberlain has had as many points in a triple double. Harden is also the first player to tally 50 points with at least 15 rebounds and dishing out 15 assists. Fan or no fan, do yourself a favor and find a way to watch the game if you haven’t already. You deserve the treat.

Paul Millsap Drops 32 Points As Hawks Top Spurs In OT

The game between San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks was as exciting as expected. By nature, the Hawks and Spurs are both bump-and-grind teams who excel at the defensive end, and move the ball to always find the better-than-good shot.

And what also helps the Hawks is, that coach Mike Budenholzer is a Greg Popovich protege. Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap marginally outshone his teammate Jim Hardaway Jr. who had 29 and shot a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

However, it was Millsap, who managed to score 32 points and grab 13 rebounds, while almost single handedly managing the the Spurs’ talented frontcourt of Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge at the defensive end.

Kyle Lowry Drops 41 on the Lakers!

Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan has rightly been earning a ton of accolades this season. All the while, though his teammate, Kyle Lowry is quietly having another solid season averaging career highs in points per game (22.4) and rebounds per game (5.0).

However, against the Lakers last week, Lowry was anything but quiet. He stamped his authority all over the game scoring 41, 20 of which came in a blistering fourth quarter barrage. He shot 75 per cent (12 of 16 shots) from the field and registered a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line.

CJ McCollum's Career-High 43 Points Leads Blazers Over T-Wolves

NBA’s most improved player of the year (2016), Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum has not stopped improving. He has bumped his number to career highs yet again averaging 23.6 points per game, and his 48.1 per cent accuracy from the field is second to Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 53.3 per cent for guards scoring at least 20 points per game.

McCollum’s 43 points, a career high, came against a middling defensive effort by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who allowed the Portland Trailblazers to score 58 points in the second half.

Jimmy Butler Goes Off For 52 Points

Not one to be compared to the greats, let alone his peers, Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler has crafted himself into a legit All-Star over the past three seasons. He adds a new dimension to his game every summer, then proceeds to his previous career highs in nearly every category.

Known for his elite defensive ability, Butler has now made scoring a part of his ever growing arsenal. Dropping a career-high 52 points over a hapless Charlotte Hornets defense, who threw everything and the kitchen sink at him, is testament to Butler’s deserving place in the conversation of the ten best players in the NBA.

Isaiah Thomas Fires Away With 29 Points And Career High 15 Assists

They say good things come in small packages. At 5’9”, Isaiah Thomas is probably the smallest “package” on an NBA court. The Boston Celtics get great things from him though.

Isaiah Thomas is having the best season of his career this far. In serious consideration for the Most Improved Player Award this season, Thomas is lighting up NBA defenses for 28.1 points a night, while firing away at over 45 per cent from the field. The Utah team against which Isaiah scored 29 points and dished 15 assists is no pushover, but Thomas who had dropped 52 points against the Miami Heat a few days before, simply rode the hot hand while also involving teammates to ensure their 22nd victory of the season.

Russell Westbrook’s 49 Points Fall Short Against The Rockets

Oklahoma City’s Westbrook and Houston Rockets’ James Harden have become the two most entertaining players in the NBA. An argument could also be made for their place among the most entertaining players in NBA history.

So when the former teammates squared up against each other last week, everyone expected fireworks and no one was disappointed. Both Harden and Westbrook led their teams the way they have been doing so all season. And just as expected, the game went down to the wire, with Harden and his teammate Nene making 4 of 4 free throws to seal the 118-116 victory. It may seem like a waste of 49 points by Westbrook, but something tells us there is much more left in the tank.

Giannis And Porzingis Duel In Milwaukee

While the NBA revels in its boom of do-it-all guards, there’s a slew of do-it-all forwards lurking in the horizon. Two of those forwards, Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, went up against each other in Milwaukee.

Two days after Giannis shot the game-winning buzzer-beating dagger into the Knicks heart at Madison Square Garden, it was Porzingis’ turn to bring the noise. Porzingis scored 24 points in just 30 minutes of action, helping his team secure another crucial road win against an Eastern Conference rival. Giannis, who wasn’t his usual efficient and effective self, still finished with 25 points.

Andrew Wiggins Drops 41 Against the Wizards

That Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins will go down as one of the greatest ever, is a given. Displaying the talent that he is at the tender age of 21, makes fans wonder if he even has a ceiling, and if he does what would it be? Does he crack the Top 50? Top 20? Does he continue like Paul George who is an All-Star on a mediocre team? Or does he elevate himself to LeBron James’ levels and rattle off mutiple Championships?

He has the help he needs in Karl Anthony-Towns, together with whom he forms the frontcourt duo of the future. But this is all speculation. For now let us enjoy his occasional near-transcendent brilliance, like the time he dropped 41 in a narrow 112-105 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Conley, Randolph and Gasol Lead Furious Grizz Comeback Against The Warriors

The Golden State Warriors fans are understandably worried. They the super team in the NBA and squandered a 24 point lead with just 2 minutes left to go in the 3rd quarter, only to lose their way against the tough-as-nails Memphis Grizzlies.

Let, however, the Warrior fans be assured: They still have four of the ten best players in the league, and are still going to make the 2017 NBA Finals.

Although, take nothing away from the Memphis Grizzlies who are exceeding everyone’s expectations this season. Coach David Fizdale has managed to make this fringe elite playoff team better, and rewarded us with games like these where despite 40 points from Curry and a 24-point lead, the Warriors caved in to the Grizzlies. With three players scoring in the 20s, the Grizzlies bench annihilated the Warriors bench 53-14, and proved again, that nothing is sure until the final buzzer.