In his first two games with the Texas Legends, P.J. Hairston was fantastic. Over the 66 minutes he logged against the Toros and Vipers, the 6-foot-6 guard scored 62 points on 21-for-40 shooting from the field and was making an early case for being the D-League's best scorer. But then, in his first back-to-back game as a pro, he struggled mightily, failing to break double-digits on some woeful 1-for-9 shooting against a tough Santa Cruz Warriors squad.
After a couple days off, Hairston found his stroke again in a blowout loss to the L.A. D-Fenders, putting up 23 points in 28 minutes off the bench. And last night against the Bighorns, he put any worries about his hot start being an anomaly by breaking his season-high, which he set less than a week ago.
In 38 minutes, the former Tar Heel scored 45 points on 12-for-22 shooting from the field. He also set a couple more season-highs by knocking down five threes and shooting a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe. To go along with those gaudy scoring numbers, he corralled three rebounds, three steals and swatted away one shot. However, it wasn't enough, as the Bighorns ended up winning the game by a final score of 124-115.
The Legends had their work cut out for themselves after the first-half. Despite putting up 54 points, they were a mess defensively, giving up 67 points and allowing the Bighorns to shoot 68.4 percent from the floor. But the third quarter proved to be a different story. Thanks to Hairston's 20 points in those 12 minutes, the Legends cut their deficit to three and defensively, they were much better, allowing 27 points on 22 attempts. But after rallying back in the third quarter, they simply ran out of steam, coming up short in the fourth. They have now lost three games in a row.
In his five games with the Legends, Hairston has scored 20 or more points in all but one game. To add to that, he's scored 40 or more points twice, which has helped boost his season average to 27.4 points per game, good enough for the second most in the D-League. He is doing that on some good shooting numbers, too: 51.2 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from three.
In a recent interview with Draft Express, Hairston said that his goal this season is to, "show [NBA teams] what I've worked on and show what I've done to become a better player." He also said that actions speak louder than words and that his stint in the D-League is, "part of a maturing stage for me and I want to show that I'm a way better person than what was assumed." Hairston has gotten off to a terrific start with the Legends and is certainly on pace to boost his draft stock based not only on his supreme talent, but also a level of professionalism that wasn't necessarily seen in his two years at UNC.