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Week 12 Rewind: 10 things to know from the past 7 days in the NBA

Klay returns, Kyrie debuts, 41 forever, Grizz rolling and more from Week 12 in the NBA.

Klay Thompson finished with 17 points on 7-18 shooting in 20 minutes in his first game since June 13, 2019.

1. Klay Day

It had been 941 days since we had seen Klay Thompson suit up for the Golden State Warriors – and his return on Sunday did not disappoint. From every Warrior warming up in a No. 11 jersey, the thunderous ovation when he was announced last during Warriors intros, to Klay hitting his first shot in the opening minute, and even an emphatic poster dunk to punctuate his long road back. Thompson finished with 17 points on 7-18 shooting (3-8 from three) in 20 minutes as the Warriors defeated the Cavs 96-82.

The NBA is simply better when Klay Thompson is on the court. So happy to have him back, as were his fellow NBA players, who shared their thoughts after Klay made his much-anticipated return. After the game, Klay discussed how gratifying Sunday’s game was after being away from the game for over two years following a pair of devastating leg injuries.

Poster dunks aren’t a huge part of Klay’s game, but here are two minutes of his best career throwdowns.

2. Kyrie makes season debut for Nets

Kyrie Irving made his long-awaited season debut with the Brooklyn Nets when they faced the Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday. Kyrie showed no signs of rust as he finished with 22 points on 9-17 shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes as the Nets rallied past the Pacers in the second half.

Due to his vaccination status, Irving is not eligible to play home games in Brooklyn, so Wednesday’s win remains his only game action so far this season – the Nets went 1-1 without him to close Week 12. Kyrie’s next game will come on Monday as the Nets visit the Blazers; the Nets are already a league-best 14-3 on the road so far this season and now their road lineup is even stronger.

3. Mavericks retire Dirk’s No. 41 jersey

It was a night dubbed 41 Forever in Dallas as the Mavericks honored the greatest player in team history on Wednesday night. In addition to retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban unveiled a model of the statue that will soon welcome fans at the American Airlines Center.

And, of course, the statue is of Dirk doing his signature one-legged fadeaway.

4. Milestone Watch: LeBron 10th in steals, 7th in assists

Of the five major statistical categories, LeBron James now ranks in the top 10 all-time in three of them as he climbed to 10th in career steals and seventh in career assists this week.

LeBron became the fifth player to rank in the top 10 in both career assists (7th; 9,888) and career steals (10th; 2,113), joining John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Gary Payton. LeBron is the only forward among those five players, and the only one of those players to score more than 22,000 career points – LeBron is third-all time with 36,205.

  • Points: 3rd (36,205)
  • Assists: 7th (9,888)
  • Steals: 10th (2,113)
  • Rebounds: 42nd (9,967)
  • Blocks: 99th (1,015)
  • Minutes: 4th (51,121)
  • Games Played: 16th (1,339)

As LeBron continues to put up unprecedented numbers in his 19th NBA season, there are two major milestones on the horizon – LeBron is 33 rebounds shy of 10,000 for his career and 122 assists shy of 10,000 for his career. No player in league history has accumulated 10K in both categories.

5. Grizzlies push win streak to nine games

Memphis closed Week 12 as the hottest team in the league as they have won a single-season franchise-record nine straight games. The Grizzlies have not lost since Dec. 23 at Golden State and enter Week 13 sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference with a five-game lead over fifth-ranked Dallas and just 3.5 games back of the first-place Warriors.

Over every team’s last nine games, Memphis ranks fourth in points scored (117.7 ppg) and sixth in points allowed (104.9 ppg) for a league-leading differential of 12.8 ppg. Ja Morant has led the Grizzlies with 27.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 6.3 apg, while shooting 52.5% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. Memphis has outscored opponents by a total of 138 points in Morant’s 222 minutes during this nine-game run.

6. This Ja Morant block

Speaking of Morant, I’m pretty sure the debate for block of the year is over just nine days into 2022.

7. First All-Star ballot returns released

Since the new All-Star game format debuted in 2018, LeBron James has been one of the two captains each year – and he’s selected the winning squad all four years. Will that streak come to an end this year?

Currently, the captains matchup would be Stephen Curry from the West vs. Kevin Durant from the East – pitting the former teammates against one another in choosing the All-Star teams in Cleveland – as they lead their respective conferences in fan votes. Curry (2,584,623) holds a commanding lead over LeBron (2,018,725) in the West, while Durant (2,360,435) has a smaller lead over Giannis Antetokounmpo (2,145,835) in the East.

Fan voting closes on Jan. 22, so there are less than two weeks remaining to let your voice be heard. Be sure to cast your ballot each day, including Thursday, Jan. 13 when each vote is counted twice.

8. Trae drops NBA season-best 56 points

Trae Young had a game for the ages on Monday, Jan. 3 as he posted a career-best and NBA season-high 56 points to go with 14 assists in Atlanta’s loss to Portland. Young shot 17-26 from the field, 7-12 from 3-point range and 15-15 from the free throw line, while also creating another 30 Hawks’ points with his assists.

There have been eight games in NBA history in which a player posted at least 55 points and 10 assists – none had more than Young’s 14 dimes. Unfortunately for Young, he’s also the only player on the list to have lost the game while posting a 55-10 game.

Trae Young 1/3/22 ATL @ POR L 56 14
James Harden 2/28/19 HOU vs. MIA W 58 10
James Harden 1/30/18 HOU vs. ORL W 60 11
James Harden 11/5/17 HOU vs. UTA W 56 13
Russell Westbrook 3/29/17 OKC @ ORL W 57 11
Tony Parker 11/5/08 SAS @ MIN W 55 10
Michael Jordan 12/23/92 CHI vs. WAS W 57 10
Oscar Robertson 12/18/64 CIN vs. LAL W 56 12

9. Stat leaders of the week

For games played between Jan. 3-9, with a minimum of two games played.

Points: Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 35.0 ppg over three games (MIL 1-2). Five other players averaged at least 30 points this week: Trae Young (33.3), LeBron James (32.7), Joel Embiid (31.0), Kevin Durant (30.5) and Fred VanVleet (30.3).

Rebounds: Nikola Jokic (DEN) and Omer Yurtseven (MIA): 16.3 rpg each; four games for Jokic (DEN 2-2), three games for Yurtseven (MIA 2-1).

Assists: Luka Doncic (DAL): 12.3 apg over three games (DAL 3-0). Four other players averaged double-digit assists this week: Trae Young (11.7), Dejounte Murray (11.0), Kyle Lowry (11.0) and Chris Paul (10.7).

Steals: Herbert Jones (NOP): 2.8 spg over four games (NOP 1-3). Two other players averaged more than 2.5 steals this week: Dejounte Murray (2.7) and Lonzo Ball (2.7).

Blocks: Robert Williams III (BOS): 4.3 bpg over three games (BOS 1-2). Four other players averaged at least three blocks this week: Myles Turner (3.7), Jaren Jackson Jr. (3.2) and Bismack Biyombo (3.0).

3-Pointers Made: Duncan Robinson (MIA) and Fred VanVleet (MIA): 6.0 3pm each; Robinson over two games (MIA 2-0) and VanVleet over four games (TOR 4-0).

10. Plays of the week

Check out the top plays from Week 12 of the NBA season.