The Rundown: East goes wild, Tatum and Lavine drop 50s

Published April 10, 2021, 1:00 PMMiguel Flores

Jayson Tatum and Zach Lavine each had 50-point games on a day where there was a lot of movement in the Eastern Conference standings.


Pelicans 101, 76ers 94
Hawks 120, Bulls 108
Celtics 145, Timberwolves 136
Pacers 111, Magic 106
Knicks 133, Grizzlies 129
Hornets 127, Bucks 119
Nuggets 121, Spurs 119
Wizards 110, Warriors 107
Clippers 126, Rockets 109

What went down

There was a Signal No. 3 level storm in the Eastern Conference today. There are three clear leaders atop the East; the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. The rest of the conference is total chaos, which was further stirred by today’s results.

The Indiana Pacers gutted out a tight win against the Orlando Magic. The Charlotte Hornets, without LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, pulled off a wire-to-wire upset against the Bucks. Charlotte is fourth in the East with a 27-24 record, while Indiana—only three games behind the Hornets at 24-27—are ninth and fighting for their play-in lives. The Chicago Bulls, who lost to the Atlanta Hawks, are 22-29 and clinging to the 10th and final play-in seed.

The New York Knicks rallied from eight down in the last 2:30 of regulation to stun the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime. The Boston Celtics also needed a comeback and overtime to escape the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Hornets, Hawks (28-25), Celtics (27-26), Knicks (26-27), and the Miami Heat (27-25) make up the soft middle belly of the East in which a short losing or winning streak could mean getting an outright playoffs seed or having to gut it out in the play-in.

With roughly three quarters of the season in the books, the sprint to the finish line in the East should feature some playoff-level fun almost every day.

Out West, the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors rekindled an age-old debate: Should teams foul up three in the final moments of the game or is playing good defense and forcing a contested shot always the right decision?

The absolute best case scenario happened for the Wizards while the absolute worst case happened for the Warriors.

At 19-32, the Wizards are just three games behind the Bulls for the last play-in spot. Wild, Wild East, indeed.

Big-time baller

The aforementioned Celtics escape of the Timberwolves was all thanks to a career game from Jayson Tatum.

Tatum went 16-for-25 from the field and 15-for-16 on charities for 53 points with 10 rebounds and four assists. Tatum started the season off so hot that scoring performances like this would not have surprised anyone. But after a bout with COVID-19, Tatum had struggled to regain form.

The Celtics are going to need Tatum and the rest of their All-Stars to survive in the East. A scoring outburst like this is just what Tatum needed.

What he said

The Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles have been the topic of many talking heads as of late. After spending the first part of the season at the top of the West, the Lakers currently sit in fifth place with a 32-20 record, just 2.5 games up on the Dallas Mavericks. The concern has been if the Lakers are going to be healthy enough to make a playoff push.

King James has some wise words for the doubters.

Did you see that?

There was another 50-point scorer today and he probably did it with more flash. Zach LaVine was unstoppable for the Bulls in the first half, but couldn’t pull the Bulls past the Hawks.

At one point in the second quarter, LaVine scored 25 straight points for the Bulls. It just goes to show how tough it is to win in the NBA with the level of talent each team has.