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5 NBA things to know for Feb. 25

Some key storylines and NBA tidbits to know for the day ahead

Jeff Case, NBA.com

1. Zion vs. LeBron, Part I

The Pelicans are 0-2 against the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers this season, but are 0-0 when it comes to New Orleans facing L.A. with Zion Williamson on the court. The Lakers and their MVP favorite, LeBron James, host the Pelicans tonight (10 ET, TNT) as Williamson brings his late-season push for Kia Rookie of the Year to Staples Center. This is the first NBA matchup between the multi-skilled forwards and is one you can’t afford to miss. Both teams come into the game playing well, too, with the Lakers on a five-game win streak and the Pelicans having won seven of their last 10.

2. Bucks, Raptors renew rivalry

Hard to believe, perhaps, but the Raptors and Bucks haven’t played each other since Nov. 2 — a game Milwaukee won 115-105. Since then, both teams have proved to be the class of the Eastern Conference and are ready for their second showdown of 2019-20 (7:30 ET, TNT). The Pascal Siakam vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo matchup entices, of course, but don’t overlook Toronto’s Kyle Lowry vs. Milwaukee’s defense. Lowry is off to a slow start since the All-Star break, but lit up the Bucks for 36 points in the last matchup, scoring 24 of those points against Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

3. Thunder closing in on No. 5 spot

Oklahoma City has been nothing if not steady all season, never losing more than three games in a row (or winning more than five straight). The Thunder are in the midst of a three-game streak and, coupled with the Utah Jazz’s three-game slide, are 1 game behind them for No. 5 in the West. A trip to Chicago is next (8 ET, League Pass) where the Thunder have to try to cool off Bulls rookie Coby White (33 points in each of his last two games). This game bears watching because both squads are among the best at scoring in the paint, with OKC often putting the onus for that work on its guards.

4. Can Tatum keep it rolling?

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum was hot in his last game, dropping a career-best 41 points on the Lakers in a narrow loss Sunday. Tatum has been rolling lately, averaging 30.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 49.6% overall and 45.3% on 3-pointers. The Blazers get a crack at slowing him down next (10 ET, League Pass), which the numbers say may be a mixed bag at best. Portland has the NBA’s fourth-worst Defensive Rating (113.5), but allows 42.1 ppg to forwards this season (which is the second-lowest mark in the NBA).

5. On this date: ‘Pistol Pete’ goes for 68

The Utah Jazz franchise traces its roots back to New Orleans and after all the success the Jazz have enjoyed in Utah, the best scoring game came during the team’s New Orleans era. Back on Feb. 25, 1977, Hall of Famer “Pistol” Pete Maravich set the franchise single-game scoring mark by roasting the Knicks for 68 points in a 124-107 Jazz win. He shot 26-for-43 and 16-for-18 on free throws, all in an era that preceded the 3-pointer.

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