LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Even if he remained almost 1,500 miles away, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum sensed he was not too far from family.

His son, Deuce, joined the virtual fan section and became giddy after seeing his dad on the screen in uniform for Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“He’s a fan favorite,” Tatum said. “I was happy he was able to watch the game.”

Deuce saw his old man help the Celtics to a 128-124 win over the Trail Blazers by scoring 34 points on 11-of-22 shooting. He also saw Tatum have a bounce-back game coincidentally after getting a haircut here on the NBA Disney campus.

My man❤️

— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) August 2, 2020

“I was going to cut my hair before the first game. But my mom and grandma, a couple of people loved the curls,” Tatum said. “I wanted to cut my hair before the regular season started. It was a coincidence.”

Self sufficiency Sights and sounds inside the bubble

Deuce wasn’t the only familiar face in Boston’s virtual fan section. Celtics legend Paul Pierce was right next to Tatum’s son on the video screen behind the bench area.

— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) August 2, 2020

Pierce enjoyed the show while the Celtics took a 24-point lead and dominated the first half. He was less than thrilled to watch Damian Lillard and the Blazers storm back in the fourth quarter and take the lead before Boston eventually held on for the win.

Dame got virtual Paul Pierce stressed

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 2, 2020

James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo traded barbs in the media during the first part of the season. After facing each other in the bubble Sunday night, Harden largely resisted any temptation to fire any more shots.

Harden scored 24 points to help Houston rally late and top Milwaukee 120-116 despite 36 points and 18 rebounds from Antetokounmpo. Asked afterwards how difficult it is to guard Antetokounmpo, Harden simply replied, “Next question.”

Harden, long maligned as a perceived defensive liability, was clutch guarding Antetokounmpo down the stretch. He scoffed at the notion he had something to prove on the defensive end against his fellow former MVP.

“No, I have nothing to prove, to anybody,” Harden said. “Nothing to say.”

James Harden on whether his defense on Giannis should prove a point to those who doubt his ability on that end:

“ I don’t have nothing to prove to anybody. Nothing to say.”

— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) August 3, 2020

One of the hottest topics of conversation through the first weekend of seeding games has been Zion Williamson’s playing time. The rookie phenom has played a total of 29 minutes in the New Orleans Pelicans’ two losses to open play in Orlando.

Williamson scored 13 points in 15 minutes Thursday in a 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz. He followed that up with seven points in 14 minutes Saturday in a 126-103 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. Williamson admitted Sunday it hasn’t been an easy situation to deal with. 

“It’s very tough to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over and that horn is for me and I have to come out the game,” Williamson said.

The Pelicans have limited the No. 1 pick’s minutes so far after he missed about two weeks of practice and scrimmages ahead of the restart. They were a trendy pick to potentially nab the eighth seed in the West playoffs, but their hopes are slipping away after the slow start.

“I’m a competitor, I want to stay on the court,” said Williamson. “When I’m coming out of the game, my competitive side of me that I want to stay in. I guess that does affect the fun a little bit, but not too much.”

Self sufficiency Sunday’s games

Nets 118, Wizards 110: Caris LeVert scored 14 of his 34 points in the final seven minutes as Brooklyn further dimmed Washington’s chances of forcing a play-in.

Celtics 128, Blazers 124: Boston coughed up a 24-point lead before holding off Portland late in one of the most exciting finishes of the weekend inside the bubble.

Spurs 108, Grizzlies 106: DeMar DeRozan hit two free throws in the final second as San Antonio held on to move into ninth place in the West, two games behind Memphis.

Magic 132, Kings 116: Orlando shot 52% from the field and hit 18 3s to improve to 2-0 during the restart, while Sacramento fell to 0-2 and saw its playoff hopes take a hit.

Rockets 120, Bucks 116: Houston shot 21-of-61 from 3-point range and closed on a 16-4 run over the final three minutes for a second straight comeback win.

Suns 117: Mavericks 115: Phoenix overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to move to 2-0 in the bubble and keep alive their slim hopes of making the playoffs.

Self sufficiency Monday’s schedule

All times Eastern. All games available on League Pass.

  • Raptors vs. Heat, 1:30 (NBATV)
  • Nuggets vs. Thunder, 4 (NBATV)
  • Pacers vs. Wizards, 4
  • Grizzlies vs. Pelicans, 6:30 (ESPN)
  • Spurs vs. Sixers, 8
  • Lakers vs. Jazz, 9 (ESPN)

Self sufficiency State of the playoff race

We’re through the first weekend of seeding games, and the sprint to the playoffs is on. Seeding in the West is still just as tight, with 1½ games separating seeds 3-6. Houston is now tied with Utah for fourth and owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jazz. Despite its loss, Dallas clinched a playoff spot. The Lakers can clinch the top seed in the West with a win Monday night against the Jazz.

The race for the final spot in the West tightened, with four games now separating eighth and 13th place. The Spurs quietly moved into ninth, two games behind the Grizzlies. Phoenix moved to 2-0 in the bubble and four games back of Memphis. The Suns still are a long shot to jump four other teams and force a play-in, but its appears they at least plan on making things interesting. 

Washington’s hopes of forcing a play-in for the final spot in the East further dimmed after losing to Brooklyn. The Wizards are now seven games behind the Nets for eighth.

Self sufficiency Essential reading

UNCERTAIN TIMES:Rockets could be ultimate disruptor in strange year

DEFENDING CHAMPS:Lowry makes Raptors threat to get back to Finals

INSIDE THE BUBBLE:Nurse finding new ways to spend his free time

GETTING HEATED:Embiid downplays sideline exchange with teammate

LIGHTER WALLET:Celtics’ Smart fined $15K for ripping refs postgame

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ON THE CLOCK: Sixers don’t have much time to get Embiid up to full speed

BURNING QUESTIONS:Best in the West? What’s at stake for Bucks?

PREDICTIONS:Our picks for 2020 season awards and NBA champion  


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