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Duke in the NBA: Williamson, Ingram injured, Irving continues to impress

After an impressive week individually, Kyrie Irving helped the Brooklyn Nets snap a four-game losing streak with a 31-point showing.
After an impressive week individually, Kyrie Irving helped the Brooklyn Nets snap a four-game losing streak with a 31-point showing.

In the penultimate week of the NBA regular season former Blue Devils faced some good and some bad. The Blue Zone takes a look here:

Williamson, Ingram dealing with potential season-ending injuries

Williamson was reported to be out indefinitely Friday after suffering a fractured left ring finger in a game against the Golden State Warriors and will likely miss the remainder of the season. The Pelicans' Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin, claimed the injury was in part due to routinely poor officiating on Williamson that allowed the 20-year-old to suffer repeated hits to the hand on non-fouls, calling the situation "egregious and horrific", comments for which Griffin was fined $50,000. Overall, though, Williamson scored 32 and 23 points as New Orleans split back-to-back matchups against Golden State.

As the Pelicans are currently out of the playoff picture, the team is also playing it safe with Brandon Ingram as the fifth-year star and reigning NBA Most Improved Player nurses a sprained ankle. If he were to miss the remainder of the season, he would finish the 2020-21 campaign with an identical scoring average to last season with 23.8 points per game and a similarly identical 53.1% effective field goal percentage.

Irving paces Nets during losing streak

The 2011 first-overall pick had yet another tremendous week, this time dropping 38 and 45 points against the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks, respectively. He nailed six and seven threes in each of those games and has been taking on a bulk of the offensive load for the Brooklyn squad. However, still without James Harden and owning a historically poor defense, the Nets have generally struggled to close out close games and were on a four-game losing streak. In the Nets’ Saturday game against the Nuggets in Denver, Kyrie and teammate Kevin Durant paired for 64 points as they finally tallied a win and set themselves up for a wild battle with Milwaukee to decide who will become the second seed in the East.

Tatum struggles a week after 60-point game

Tatum followed up his historic 60-point performance last Thursday with a 33-point showing in a home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He shot the ball well in the Portland game and in a huge win on the road in Orlando, but he had one of his worst shooting performances of the season in the Friday dance with the Chicago Bulls. Rookie Patrick Williams and the Bulls defense held the 23-year-old to only nine points on 3-of-15 shooting, his lowest point total in a game since February. As the Celtics fell in Chicago, they also fell in the standings while preparing for the final five games of the season. Boston looks to be safe in the playoff picture, but Tatum and co. need to make up a game against the Miami Heat in order to avoid the play-in tournament.

Inconsistent Bagley has big night

Duke’s top recruit from 2017 has remained inconsistent with the Sacramento Kings as his third professional season wraps up. After suffering a hand injury which sidelined the Arizona native for over a month, he has been back in the Kings’ starting lineup for the past week. In the Wednesday matchup against the Indiana Pacers, Bagley put up 31 points—one point shy of the career-high he set back in February of 2019—however, in the very next game, Bagley only managed four points as Sacramento fell to San Antonio. Bagley’s inconsistent play on the floor and apparent inability to stay healthy over the course of a season has his future looking hazy as the former second-overall pick plays under a team option through next season.

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