ATLANTA • Coming off his first All-Star appearance, Trae Young was in an irresistible mood on Thursday night, torching the Miami Heat for a career-high 50 points as the Atlanta Hawks came away with a 129-124 National Basketball Association (NBA) home win.
Not that the guard needed the validation of being named one the best players in the league by his peers and the fans.
After draining 18 of 19 free throws and eight of 15 three-pointers en route to a monster performance, Young told reporters: "I've always had confidence in myself."
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 21-year-old is the fourth-youngest player to score 50 points after LeBron James, Devin Booker and Brandon Jennings.
He is also the first Hawk to do so since Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 2001, leading teammate John Collins to hail him "our leader".
"A big game," the forward said. "We got some big plays from our big-time guy."
The NBA's second-highest scorer - Young is averaging 30.1 points per game - helped the hosts defeat the Heat for the first time in four tries this season.
Unlike the 14th-placed Hawks (16-41), the visitors (35-20) are fourth in the Eastern Conference and firmly in contention for a play-off spot. But after slumping to their fifth defeat in six games, Jimmy Butler, who had 17 points, called on his teammates to show more steel on the road. They are 13-17 on their travels.
He told local daily The Sun Sentinel: "At home, we're tough because we guard and we also make shots. But on the road, we just tend to leave our defence at home.
"We'll figure it out. We've got nothing but time... I'm confident in our group."
There was, however, little the Heat could have done to lock down Young, who is the sixth player in NBA history with at least 10 or more 40-point games in his second season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Nate Archibald, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Butler admitted: "He showed us why he's a hell of a player in this league at a very young age, and how he can handle guarding, scoring, on both ends of the floor."