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Wade plays Father Christmas once again
Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 31 points to lead the Heat to a 101-91 win over the visiting Cavaliers, spoiling LeBron James' first game in Miami after leaving the Heat last summer. For Wade, it was really a case of "nothing new"-it was the 10th time in his NBA career that he has played a game on Christmas Day and the ninth time that he went home a winner. No other player in NBA history who has appeared in at least 10 Christmas Day games owns a winning percentage as high as Wade's .900; second place belongs to Hall-of-Famer Slater Martin, who went 8-2 (.800) in 10 Christmas Day games for the Minneapolis Lakers and the St. Louis Hawks between 1949 and 1959.
The only time that Wade lost a Christmas Day game in the NBA came in 2007, when the Heat dropped a 96-82 decision at Cleveland. LeBron played the Grinch that day, with game-high totals in both points (25) and assists (12) for the Cavaliers.
Christmas wrap: Gasol does what LeBron fails to do
It was a Christmas Day game with a little special sauce: A two-time NBA champion playing his first game against the team for which he won those championships, and for which he played as recently as last season. And he responded, leading his team in both points and rebounds as it handily defeated his former team.
Wait. What? You're thinking, "I know I was up late the night before wrapping presents, and maybe I had a little too much turkey, cranberry sauce and egg nog. But didn't LeBron's Cavaliers LOSE their game to his former team, the Heat?" Well, yes, LeBron's team did lose, but the two-time champion who beat his former team that we're talking about was Pau Gasol, who finished with a game-high total of 23 points and a team-high total of 13 rebounds in the Bulls' 113-93 win over the Lakers.
So Gasol became the first NBA player in exactly 28 years to lead his team to victory, pacing it in both points and rebounds, in his first game facing a team for which he had played the previous season and with which he had won an NBA championship. A mouthful, yes, but significant. Back on Christmas Day of 1986, Moses Malone led the Washington Bullets in points and rebounds as they took a 102-97 decision from the 76ers, with whom Malone had memorably won a championship in 1983. (Moses had predicted that the 76ers would win the title by sweeping each of the three playoff series that they would need to play - "fo, fo, fo" was his poetic way of foreseeing it. As it turned out, he wasn't far off: the Sixers won those series in four, five and four games.)
And just to wrap things up and put a bow on it, the only other player to lead a team to victory as Gasol did against a team for which he had played the previous season and had won multiple titles was Walt (Clyde) Frazier, in his first game against the Knicks while playing for the Cavaliers in 1977.
Westbrook makes a mark in NBA history
Russell Westbrook dominated the Spurs, contributing 34 points and 11 assists to the Thunder's cause in its 114-106 triumph at San Antonio. Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to produce at least 30 points and at least 10 assists in a Christmas Day road victory-against any team, much less against the defending NBA champions.
It was Oklahoma City's first road victory this season against a team that currently stands at or above the .500 mark. The Thunder had previously lost games to the Trail Blazers, Clippers, Raptors, Pelicans and Warriors.
Clippers start slowly, finish fast
The schedule-weary Clippers missed 16 consecutive field-goal attempts during a lengthy stretch of the first quarter, but hung in and then pulled away in the second half to defeat the Warriors, 100-86. The Clippers matched the most consecutive missed shots by an NBA team in any game this season (the Nuggets missed 16 straight shots in a loss to the Knicks on November 16), and they matched the longest streak of missed shots by a team in the first quarter of an NBA game in just over 10 years-since the 76ers missed 16 straight shots in an 88-80 loss to the Spurs on Nov. 18, 2004.
And the Clippers became the first NBA team to win and score 100-plus points in a regulation-length game in which it missed 16-or-more consecutive shots since the Raptors downed the Clippers, 109-106, on Feb. 13, 2005, in a game in which Toronto missed 18 straight shots spanning the second and third periods.
Keep this up, and they'll name a NYC Street after Wall... or have they already?
John Wall is getting to like Madison Square Garden, where he contributed team highs of 24 points and 11 assists to the Wizards in their 102-91 win over the Knicks. It was Wall's eighth game at the Garden in his five-year NBA career: The Wizards lost each of the first four games, including three by scores of 112-91, 120-99 and 103-65! But things have turned around, and Wall's team has now won each of his last four games in midtown Manhattan. On Thursday, his totals of points and assists, as well as his shooting from the floor (58.8 percent), all represented high-water marks in any of those four victories at the Garden.
Small solace for Carmelo, but Knicks set an unwanted record
Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points for the Knicks on Thursday-not enough to lead to a Knicks victory, but enough to maintain his streak of having scored 30-or-more points in each of his four appearances on Christmas Day. The only player in NBA history who had a longer streak of games scoring 30-plus points on Christmas Day was Oscar Robertson, who dropped 30 in each of seven straight Christmas Day games his first seven years as a pro (1960 to 1966).
The game marked the Knicks' eighth straight loss at home, the longest single-season home losing streak in franchise history-and remember, this team has been around since 1946, when it was a charter member of the league then known as the Basketball Association of America.