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Duke in the NBA: Tatum drops career-high 60, former Blue Devils hanging on in playoff picture

<p>Jayson Tatum joins Larry Bird as the only 60-point scorers in Boston Celtics history.</p>

Jayson Tatum joins Larry Bird as the only 60-point scorers in Boston Celtics history.

Former Blue Devils continue to amaze in the NBA as the playoffs near. Let’s take a look at some of their latest performances:

Tatum breaks records with 60-point game

In Boston’s two wins this week, Tatum averaged 47.5 points. This number included an incredible 60-point game Friday in a 32-point comeback against the San Antonio Spurs. In that game, Tatum shot 54% from the field on 37 shots, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. By scoring 60, he ties Larry Bird for most points in a game by a Celtics player. Tatum also became both the first in Celtics’ franchise history to score multiple 50-point games in the same season and the first player in league history with multiple such games in the same month before turning 24. The MVP candidate has been a huge boost for the Celtics, who are now looking to cement their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field.

Irving propels Nets to huge win

The Brooklyn Nets are sitting happily at first place in the East thanks to their star-studded lineup, including former Blue Devil Kyrie Irving. He was the leading scorer in the Nets’ win against the Phoenix Suns, who hold the best record in the league. Against Phoenix, Irving scored 34 points, as he shot 5-of-7 from deep and was perfect from the free-throw line. Kyrie, like Tatum, is also having an amazing season as another MVP candidate who hopes to propel the Nets to a deep run in the playoffs.

Williamson tries to keep New Orleans afloat in playoff picture

In his second NBA season, Williamson is averaging 27.0 points per game, good for seventh in the league. His latest performances helped the Pelicans to a 3-1 record for the week, winning games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves. Against the Clippers, Zion shot 73% from the field including a make on his only 3-point attempt, but he struggled from the free-throw line, only hitting six of his 11 attempts. In the win against the Thunder, he put up 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting. He added 37 in an overtime win Saturday against Minnesota.

Zion had the opportunity to give the Pelicans an undefeated week against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, but his potential game-tying layup was blocked in the final seconds by the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. The non-call stirred up some controversy, and referees stated Thursday that the 20-year-old was fouled and should have been awarded free throws, potentially tying the game.

New Orleans currently sits three games behind San Antonio for the final play-in spot, so it will take some more dominant games and a bit of luck for Williamson and the Pelicans to reach the postseason. 

Barrett, Knicks lose winning streak

Barrett and the Knicks have been tearing it up recently—before this week’s loss to the Suns, the Knicks had won nine straight thanks to hot shooting from last year’s third overall pick. In the loss, Barrett cooled down a bit, shooting just 3-of-9 from 3-point range while scoring 17 points. However, in his team’s bounce-back win against the Chicago Bulls, he went 9-of-15 from the field and put up 22 points. An efficient RJ Barrett leads to a winning Knicks team, and he’ll need to stay in form if the Knicks want to hold on to the fourth seed in a tight conference race.  

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