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Duke in the NBA: Trent on historic scoring run, Ingram returns from injury

Gary Trent Jr., is having his best season as a pro, averaging over 18 points per game.
Gary Trent Jr., is having his best season as a pro, averaging over 18 points per game.

While a rivalry game at North Carolina looms for the Duke men's basketball team, it's time to look at how former Blue Devils are doing in the NBA, with Gary Trent Jr., leading the charge as of late:

Trent Jr. makes historic run

If you have not been watching Gary Trent Jr., you are missing the breakout of a potential star. This is his first full year as a Toronto Raptor after being traded midway through last season from Portland. Duke fans have always believed in his potential after seeing him play with 2017-18's Elite Eight squad. It was clear Toronto saw promise in him as well, as they offered an extension last summer. The 23-year old has blossomed into his new starting position this year by averaging 18.2 points on 39.7% shooting from 3-point range. Trent has even stood out defensively, as he is currently ranked fourth in the league in steals per game.

Recently, Trent has begun to make history. Over the last five games, he has averaged over 30 points and over five 3-pointers per game. Trent scored 33 points and notched five steals in a triple-overtime win against the Miami Heat Saturday while playing 56 minutes. He joined Kawhi Leonard as the only two players in franchise history to notch 30 points, five threes, and five steals in a game. The former Blue Devil then made a career-high nine shots from beyond the arc, scoring 31 points in the win against Atlanta Monday. Facing the Miami Heat Tuesday, Trent again scored 33 points. 

Trent tied franchise records for streaks of hitting at least five 3-pointers and scoring 30 points. He joined Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Damian Lillard as the only players in NBA history with over 30 points and over five 3-pointers in five straight games. 

New Orleans' Ingram has entertaining return from injury

Former Blue Devils stole the show late in Detroit Tuesday. The New Orleans Pelicans faced the Detroit Pistons in an anticipated return from Pelicans star Brandon Ingram, who had missed five straight games due to injury. The Pelicans needed his presence as they entered Detroit on a four-game losing streak. Down 15, Ingram showed out to help the Pelicans avoid extending their losing streak to five. He scored 26 points on 44.4% shooting and had a team-high plus-minus of plus-15.

With 1:49 remaining, Ingram made two free throws to extend the Pelicans lead to 11. Then Ingram came down the other end, blocked fellow Duke one-and-done Frank Jackson’s layup, and flexed on him. The two, were teammates in New Orleans for the last couple of years. Ingram was handed a technical foul, and being his second of the game, he was ejected before he got to savor the big comeback in his return. Postgame, Jackson shared he knew Ingram was just excited since he blocked his shot and that they had a long relationship as friends and competitors.

Irving vital for Nets' road trip

If Brooklyn wants to survive the current road trip, it needs all it can get from Kyrie Irving. The Nets have not had their best start to the calendar year as Kevin Durant has a sprained MCL and James Harden has a strained right hand. They find themselves on a five-game road trip and hope to get as much as possible from the former Blue Devil Irving. Although Irving was ineligible to play home games due to a New York City vaccine mandate and he has chosen to not receive the vaccine, the Nets brought him back for road games.

The Nets’ road trip brings them up against Western Conference powerhouses including the Warriors, Suns, Jazz and Nuggets. Against the Warriors Saturday, the Nets had a 19-point deficit but Irving’s 32 points brought them back in it, only for a late Klay Thompson 3-pointer to seal the game for Golden State. If the Nets want to stay afloat amid the tight Eastern Conference, they need to rely on Irving's scoring and playmaking. In the 10 games he’s played, Irving has averaged 23.6 points per game on an efficient 48.2% shooting from the field.

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