Sunday, July 15, 2018
Sports

Two scoring gifts keep on giving

Only Kobe Bryant and Oscar Robertson have scored more than 300 points on Christmas in their NBA careers.

Cleveland's LeBron James and Chicago's Dwyane Wade might join the club today.

Wade enters today's quintupleheader as the league's Christmas Day leading active scorer, with 277 points. It's unlikely he will still have that designation when his game starts in San Antonio (5, Ch. 28, 620-AM), given that James and the Cavaliers host Golden State immediately before that matchup (2:30, Ch. 28, 620-AM) — and James enters with 270 points in his Christmas career.

The Cavs-Warriors matchup adds the element of Kevin Durant facing James as a member of Golden State after leaving the Thunder as a free agent during the offseason.

Bryant is the all-time Christmas leader with 395 points. Robertson scored 377, Wade is third, followed by Shaquille O'Neal (272) and James.

The schedule starts at noon, with the Celtics visiting the Knicks. The rest of the schedule: Minnesota at Oklahoma City at 8 p.m., and an all-Los Angeles matchup of the Clippers at the Lakers at 10:30.

It's the ninth consecutive year that the league features five games on Christmas.

Here's more of what to know:

BY THE DOZEN: Assuming he plays, Wade will become the eighth player to appear in at least 12 Christmas games. Bryant played in 16, O'Neal, Dolph Schayes and Earl Monroe played in 13 and Robertson, Dick Van Arsdale and Johnny Green are the others. Wade still can't believe he got to play on Christmas even once. "It means a lot about what the NBA thinks of me in this game," he said.

FIRST-TIMERS: Minnesota plays on Christmas for the first time. "We're all young kids, and no matter, young, old, we all love Christmas and we love spending it with our families — but for an opportunity like we have, we're more than willing to play on Christmas," Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said.

STILL WAITING: Charlotte and Memphis haven't played on Christmas. Boston is in the lineup for the first time since 2012, but the Celtics waited much less time than other franchises to get an invite to the league's holiday party. Milwaukee hasn't played on Christmas since 1977. Other long droughts: Atlanta (since 1989), Utah (1997), Toronto (2001), Philadelphia (2001), Sacramento (2003), Indiana (2004) and Detroit (2005).

FELIZ NAVIDAD: There are 23 countries represented on the rosters of today's teams. Of the countries outside the United States, Spain leads the way with five.

TRIPLE DOUBLES: Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook is the triple-double king this season. He already has one of those in his Christmas career as well, and he and James have a chance to become the first players with two such statlines. The others who did it once: Robertson, Billy Cunningham and John Havlicek.

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