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Duke in the NBA: Blue Devils see their seasons end in play-in tournament, Johnson leads the Hawks past the Heat

Brandon Ingram put up an impressive 30 points in the Pelicans' loss to the Thunder Wednesday.
Brandon Ingram put up an impressive 30 points in the Pelicans' loss to the Thunder Wednesday.

Before the NBA playoffs kicked off, three former Blue Devils competed in the play-in tournament. The Blue Zone is here to recap their performances with the season on the line:

Brandon Ingram’s effort comes up short in thriller

In Brandon Ingram’s seventh season, the former second-overall pick has etched his name in the small group of elite NBA wings. In the ninth-ranked Pelicans’ biggest game of the year, with the season on the line, he put up a dominant 30 points, six rebounds and seven assists. In a game where his team blew a lead to the 10th-ranked Thunder, Ingram fought tooth and nail to keep the Pelicans within striking distance. However, with the absence of another former Blue Devil in Zion Williamson, New Orleans ended up falling 123-118 Wednesday night. 

From the 2021-22 season, Ingram improved all aspects of his offensive game, shooting 48.4% from the field and an impressive 39% from three in his 2022-23 campaign. His 24.7 points and 5.8 assists per game this season were both career highs. Missing 37 regular season games on the year due to injury, Ingram must work to stay on the court to progress further up the NBA ranks.

Jalen Johnson helps Hawks to the NBA Playoffs

The Atlanta Hawks have done it. Upsetting the Heat in Miami 116-105 Tuesday, the Hawks moved on to the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Coming off the bench, former Duke player Jalen Johnson tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, continuing to impress for an Atlanta team in need of scoring wings. His most significant contribution to the Hawks’ victory was on the defensive end with his three steals. 

Against a Celtics team full of talent in Johnson’s position, namely all-stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, he must continue to be a key player for Atlanta to have a shot of reaching the second round. 

Gary Trent Jr. struggles in season-ending loss

After having a very successful year, former Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. disappointed for Toronto in the Raptors’ 109-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Known for his shooting abilities, he went 0-of-5 from behind the arc and failed to cash in on other scoring opportunities, finishing with two points. Toronto was unable to make up for his lack of contributions, and as a result, the Bulls advanced to the next round of the play-in tournament. Trent Jr.  will enter free agency this summer as a highly-touted player, coming off of a season with 17.4 points per game. 

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