T.J Warren is “on a different planet” inside the NBA Bubble

The NBA’s leading scorer since restarting a little more than a week ago? Not James Harden. Not LeBron James. Not Giannis Antetokounmpo.

With 39 more points on 15-of-22 shooting in a 116-111 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, it’s Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who bumped his average to 34.8 points on a scalding 60.5% shooting, including 55.6% from 3.

His efficient performance against the Lakers is not even his most impressive outing inside the bubble.

Warren dropped a bubble-high 53 in the Pacers’ opening game, on 20-of-29 shooting, with nine 3-pointers.

And an efficient 53 at that, including 19 points in a fourth quarter when the Pacers overcame a 10-point deficit with 8:38 remaining.

He scored from the perimeter. He scored on drives to the bucket. He scored when he was left open, and he scored with a hand in his face. Warren was unconscious.

His hot streak continued from his first breakout game, as Warren has scored at least 30 in four of the five games Indiana has played.

Warren’s play has gotten the attention of his Pacers teammates.

Victor Oladipo said his teammate is “on a different planet right now,” but Warren has a much more grounded explanation for his recent success.

“It’s me just putting in the time and work in the offseason,” Warren said. “During the time off, just staying locked, staying in love with the game and just being myself when I’m out there. I’ve got a good supporting cast, good family and friends, so that helps a lot. And the organization, the Pacers welcomed me in with open arms and brought me in, so I’m just grateful for everything right now.”

Against the Lakers, Warren did it on both ends, defending Anthony Davis for the majority of the game while also leading the Pacers again in scoring. Warren went on a 7-0 run by himself in the final 90 seconds, including the dagger 3 to put the Pacers up six with 10.6 seconds remaining.

“At the end of the day, I could’ve done something and made a play, but you’ve got to feed the hot hand; this is basketball,” Oladipo said. “If a guy is playing well on our team, give him the ball, give him the opportunity and let him know I have the trust in him to make a play down the stretch. Once that happens, who you gonna guard now?”

The Pacers’ next game is Monday against the Miami Heat, a rematch of a game that featured some prior beef between Warren and Jimmy Butler. In January, the two scuffled and talked serious trash to each other, with Warren getting ejected while Butler blew him kisses as he left the court.

The game against Miami is significant, at least in terms of Eastern Conference seeding, with the Pacers and Heat having identical records. With Warren’s scorching scoring and his recent beef with Butler — on top of the implications and a possible future matchup in a playoff series — Monday’s game against Miami will be one to watch.

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