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Duke in the NBA: Tatum, Trent lead the way with career performances

Gary Trent Jr. scored a career-high 44 points Saturday against the Cavaliers.
Gary Trent Jr. scored a career-high 44 points Saturday against the Cavaliers.

With the regular season's exciting conclusion fast approaching, let’s take a look at some former Blue Devils in the NBA:

Tatum’s career night leads Celtics past Timberwolves in OT

In a 145-136 overtime win against the Timberwolves on Saturday night, former Blue Devil Jayson Tatum led Boston with a career-high 53 points, shooting an efficient 64% from the field and 60% from three while also making 15 of his 16 free throw attempts. Notably, his 53 points were the third-highest regular-season scoring output in franchise history, behind only Larry Bird’s 60 points and Kevin McHale’s 56 points. The performance also makes Tatum the youngest Celtic to score 50 points in a single game.

Another big win for Williamson, Pelicans

Zion Williamson was the hero of the Pelicans' 101-94 win against the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers, leading New Orleans with 37 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. The former Blue Devil and 2019 Naismith Trophy winner has been brilliant with the ball in his hands to this point, and his 28.0 player efficiency rating—currently fourth among qualified players, per Basketball Reference—has certainly made him one of the most entertaining players to watch this season.

Trent at the buzzer, along with an impressive career night

The Raptors rallied from down 19 points in the second half Monday night and defeated the Wizards 103-101 behind Gary Trent Jr.’s clutch play: the newly-acquired sharpshooter received the ball with six seconds to play, dribbled the length of the court and beat the buzzer with a long three-pointer to give Toronto the win. The real deal came Saturday night, however, as Trent scored a career-high 44 points, along with seven rebounds and four assists, on splendid 89.5% shooting from the field. The performance makes Trent just the third player to score 40 or more points on 85% shooting since 2010, and also marks the second-highest field goal percentage for any player with at least 44 points in a single game since the shot clock era began in 1954.

Barrett making waves

Friday night, the Knicks found themselves down two points at home with less than 15 seconds remaining after Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas split a pair of free throws. Moments later, former Duke standout RJ Barrett sent the game to overtime, as he hit the game-tying shot with 8.8 seconds left. Barrett's go-ahead three-point shot with 1:15 remaining proved the difference in the extra period, as the Knicks would go on to win 133-129 behind Barrett's team-leading 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Irving’s big night leads Nets past Knicks

Not even an early-game injury to James Harden could stop Brooklyn’s momentum Monday: former Duke star Kyrie Irving carried the Nets with his fourth 40-point game of the season, leading the team to a 114-112 victory against the Knicks at home. Irving’s prowess was on display throughout the game, as he made multiple clutch baskets against New York’s tough interior defense and hit a big three-pointer with 59 seconds remaining in the game.

Allen goes off for 30 points

Grayson Allen led the Grizzlies in scoring during Wednesday night’s 131-113 victory against the Hawks at State Farm Arena, as he knocked down a season-high 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting while adding four rebounds and three assists along the way. Allen has elevated his game recently, with this performance the most recent in a string of solid outings.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article did not include Grayson Allen and Kyrie Irving’s performances from this past week, and stated that the Grizzlies-Hawks final score was 133-131. The Chronicle regrets the errors.


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