NBA’s Christ­mas has 10 teams a-play­ing

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Tim Reynolds

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 Sun­day.

Wade en­ters this year’s Christ­mas Day quin­tu­ple­header as the league’s lead­ing ac­tive scorer, with 277 points. It’s un­likely he’ll still have that des­ig­na­tion when his game starts in San An­to­nio, given that James and the Cava­liers host Golden State im­me­di­ately be­fore that matchup — and James en­ters with 270 points in his Christ­mas ca­reer.

Bryant is the all-time Christ­mas leader with 395 points. Robert­son scored 377, Wade is third for now, fol­lowed by Shaquille O’Neal (272) and James round­ing out the top five.

The sched­ule starts at 10 a.m., with the Bos­ton Celtics vis­it­ing the New York Knicks.

The rest of the sched­ule: Golden State at Cleve­land at 12:30 p.m., Chicago at San An­to­nio at 3 p.m., Min­nesota at Ok­la­homa City at 6 p.m., and an all-Los An­ge­les matchup with the Clip­pers at the Lak­ers at 8:30 p.m.

It’s the ninth con­sec­u­tive year that the NBA fea­tures five games on Christ­mas.

Here’s more of what to know go­ing into the NBA’s big slate of Christ­mas games:

• As­sum­ing he plays Sun­day, 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 in the NBA’s 12-timers club for Dec. 25. 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.

• Min­nesota will play on Christ­mas for the first time, vis­it­ing Ok­la­homa City. “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.

• 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).

• No fewer than 23 coun­tries are rep­re­sented on the ros­ters of this year’s Christ­mas­game teams. Of the coun­tries out­side the U.S. who have play­ers in these games, Spain leads the way with five.

• Ok­la­homa City’s Russell West­brook is the NBA’s 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 on Dec. 25.

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