By Dan Savage


Grant Hill started his 27th straight game on Tuesday, his longest streak to open a season since 1999. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
"I got elbowed by Shaq in the face, which is not a good thing. Ever."

Cavaliers' star LeBron James, on taking a blow from Shaquille O'Neal in Cleveland's win over the Heat on Tuesday.
The biggest surprise under the fantasy tree on Christmas was not Kobe Bryant's 38-point performance or Steve Nash's 14 dimes, those gifts were expected. Instead the most shocking line came from Trevor Ariza. Getting his first start since being acquired by Los Angeles, Ariza made the most out of the opportunity, filling the stat sheet to the tune of 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. While this may have been a gem if you had him in your fantasy lineup on Tuesday, don't expect these type of numbers as soon as Luke Walton returns from a right ankle sprain. Check out's Fantasy Index.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
122-115 win vs. Suns
38 pts, 12-20 FG, 13-14 FT

Jarrett Jack, Blazers
89-79 win vs. Sonics
17 pts, 7-11 FG, 1-1 3-pt FG, 2-2 FT

Andrew Bynum, Lakers
122-115 win vs. Suns
28 pts, 11-13 FG

What's it like to spend Christmas on the King's court? Great for the kingdom of Cleveland, tough on the opposition. LeBron James put up 25 points, dished out 12 assists and pulled down six boards to stuff his stat sheet stocking on Tuesday to help his Cavaliers cool off the Heat in the second half. He outdueled Shaquille O'Neal, who was making his 10th Christmas Day appearance, and fellow star and draft class mate Dwyane Wade, who struggled from the free throw line.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers
89-79 win vs. Sonics
2 pts, 1-10 FG, 0-2 FT

Dwyane Wade, Heat
96-82 loss at Cavaliers
22 pts, 7-18 FG, 8-16 FT

Leandro Barbosa, Suns
122-115 loss at Lakers
10 pts, 3-9 FG, 1-4 3-pt FG

In the offseason, the last thing Lakers fans expected for this Christmas was a well-tuned Los Angeles team that had Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum performing in perfect harmony. But on Tuesday, that is exactly what they got. Bryant got the best of this matchup against defensive nemesis Raja Bell as he burned the Suns for 26 points in the second half to finish with 38 overall. While Kobe was busy hitting shots from all over the court, Bynum handled the inside, notching a career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds to finish off Phoenix in front of a loud Staples Center crowd. "(We) just couldn't stop them," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Bynum killed us, (and) Kobe. They were good." It was the ninth win for Los Angeles in its last 11 games and its second consecutive over Phoenix, since being eliminated by the Suns in the first round of the playoffs last season. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe starred in Christmas games for the Lakers for a number of seasons. Did we just witness the beginning of a new Christmas tradition?
When Tuesday's matchup between the Seattle Sonics and Portland Trail Blazers was scheduled for the final game of the Christmas slate, it was intended to put the national spotlight on the first (Greg Oden) and second (Kevin Durant) overall picks in this year's draft. Now while that did not quite work out, basketball fans around the nation were lucky enough to catch one of the league's rising teams in the midst of a scorching streak. Portland, which entered Christmas night in the middle of a 10-game winning streak, had no problem earning number 11. Throughout their victorious stretch, the Blazers have rode the back of Brandon Roy, who seemingly picks Portland up whenever it hits a rough patch. Once again the Blazers followed their successful formula as Roy fired off 13 of his 17 points after halftime to power Portland past Seattle. Jarrett Jack provided a spark off the bench, adding 17 points and four assists. "We're not looking at it like, let's not lose," Roy said. "We can win these games." With the victory the Blazers became the first team to go on an 11-game winning streak following a 50-loss season.
Rookie Kevin Durant took the national stage on Christmas without Greg Oden and did his best to be his team's star. However, Portland's sophomore cast of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge proved to be too much for the second overall selection from the 2007 NBA draft. Durant tallied 23 points, six rebounds and four assists for Seattle even though it did not quite feel like the holiday season for the young guard. "It really doesn't seem like Christmas," Durant said. "I'm used to sitting in the house and watching Kobe play."
Although the Cavaliers could not get a deal worked out with Anderson Varejao in the offseason, they wasted no time matching the Bobcats when they signed him to an offer sheet in early December. The fourth-year forward out of Brazil provided the energy that made him so valuable to Cleveland on Tuesday as he put together his best night of the season with 15 points and seven boards off the bench. Daniel Gibson drained four treys off the pine and finished with 16 points as the Cavs used their depth to outlast the Heat.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce entered Tuesday at the bottom of the Central Division as they have struggled throughout the season to find a big man down low that can not only bring down key defensive rebounds, but also be a consistent offensive option in the paint. However, their search may be over. J.C. Mathis tallied 29 points and 14 rebounds for Sioux Falls to help it crush the Mad Ants on Tuesday. It was a break out performance for the big man, who easily surpassed his previous season highs of eight points and eight boards.