With most of the NBA’s top scorers gathered in Orlando, it’s somewhat surprising that T.J. Warren has the highest single-game total so far. After the Pacers forward exploded for a career-best 53 points in Saturday’s win over the Sixers, teammates told Eric Woodyard of ESPN they have always recognized what a dangerous shooter he can be.
“T.J. Warren been scoring his whole life. Since his AAU days to N.C. State,” Victor Oladipo said. “He’s been a scorer since as long as I’ve known him. I’ve known him for a long time. … He was born to get buckets, so it’s no surprise to any of us that he was able to do what he did tonight. It’s great to have him on our team. It was amazing to watch, and we’re all happy for him. That was incredible. Things like that don’t happen often.”
With Oladipo sidelined for most of the season, Warren has emerged as the leading scorer on a team that needed a boost on offense. Indiana picked him up cheaply in a three-team trade last offseason, sending cash to the Suns and second-round pick KZ Okpala to the Heat in exchange for Warren and three future second-round picks.
“It doesn’t matter the environment, you’ve just got to come with it every game,” Warren said. “Every game I feel anxious and nervous at the same time, but it’s full of excitement. Tonight was one of those special nights.”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Despite being a game-time decision, Oladipo played nearly 32 minutes Saturday and scored 15 points. However, the Pacers guard explained to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files that his status hasn’t changed. “It’s a day-to-day thing,” Oladipo said. “I wish I could tell y’all I’m going to play all eight games, but again, I can’t say that. I have to take it one day at a time. I’m sorry, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to say one thing and do another thing because you know how you guys acted the first time I did that.”
- Bulls center Cristiano Felicio may be fighting for his future in the NBA next season, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Felicio, who appeared in just 22 games this year, will be entering the final season of a four-year, $32MM contract.
- Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press examines the status of the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive now that the Pistons have an agreement to buy the Northern Arizona franchise from the Suns.