Can one in-season trade reshape a season? It’s happened before in the past and might be what’s happening in Salt Lake City in this campaign. Thanks to the acquisition of Jordan Clarkson from Cleveland last week, the Jazz may have fixed one of their biggest weaknesses — bench scoring. Utah has won eight of its last 10 games and visits Detroit (9 ET, League Pass). It could be another big night for Clarkson and Co., too, as the Pistons rank 22nd in Defensive Rating.
In just the last 24 hours, the Lakers’ star has been named the Associated Press’ male athlete of the decade and collected his 9,000th career assist. Combine that with all the milestones he’s had throughout his illustrious career, his string of eight straight Finals appearances in the 2010s and you can see LeBron has gifted the NBA world with plenty before he even opens one of his presents on this, his 35th birthday.
The last time Phoenix and Portland played — a 111-110 thriller the Blazers won on Dec. 16 — both teams were hoping for brighter days in the West playoff chase. Since then, the Suns saw Deandre Ayton return on Dec. 18 … and then miss the next five games (and counting) with an ankle injury. As for the Blazers, they lost Skal Labissiere to an ankle injury in their Saturday loss to the Lakers. A showdown tonight (10 ET, NBA TV) shouldn’t be all doom and gloom though, as a chance to watch Phoenix’s Devin Booker take on Portland’s Damian Lillard makes this one worth a viewing.
Inconsistency has marked the Magic all season, but they might be turning things around a little here with two wins in their last three games. One player who has been reliable, though, is third-year big man Jonathan Isaac. As the Hawks visit tonight (7 ET, NBA TV), he is averaging career bests in scoring (12.3 points), rebounding (7.1), blocks (2.5), steals (1.5) and assists (1.4) and is coming off an eight-steal (!!) game vs. the Sixers on Friday.
Russell Westbrook? Nope. John Stockton? Close, but not quite. Rajon Rondo? No there, too. Since Dec. 30, 1991, no one has ever had more assists in an NBA game than the 30 that Magic guard Scott Skiles piled up against the Denver Nuggets. For a hard-working, former journeyman point guard to accomplish the feat in a golden age of point guards was something to behold and, as such, we pay homage to that moment today.