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Williams, Paul meet for 16th time
The Miami Heat visiting the New York Knicks tonight will grab the headlines, but the highlight matchup of the night will be that of Deron Williams and Chris Paul.
When Paul's New Orleans Hornets play host to the Utah Jazz and Williams it will be the 16th meeting between the two point guards, drafted third and fourth overall in 2005. Williams, who was the No. 3 pick, has seen his team win 12 of the 15 meetings, but the two have matched up statistically in those 15 games.
Williams averages 17.1 points per meeting on .546 shooting from the field and .488 from 3-point range, to go along with 8.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He has recorded at least 10 assists in 10 of the last 11 meetings, and grabbed four consecutive double-doubles when facing Paul.
Paul scores 15.7 points on .416 shooting from the field, .222 from beyond the arc to go with 8.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds per meeting.
Williams is currently sporting a five-game streak of 20-plus points and has scored 30-plus in his last three outings. He is averaging 28.9 points in 52-percent shooting from the field and nine assists in his last five games.
Paul, who scored his 7,000th career point Dec. 10, has scored 20 in two of his last three and in double digits in all but three of the team's 25 games this season, made 56 of his last 58 free throws and is the only player in the NBA season to have eight games with five or more steals.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. Utah won 105-87 in Salt Lake on Nov. 24. Williams had 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting (4-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the line) to go along with 11 assists, five steals and three boards. Paul had 17 points with one 3-pointer on 4-of-8 shooting with nine assists, five steals and three rebounds.
Unfortunately, it is just the matchup of these two teammates that won gold while playing for Team USA squad at the 2008 Olympics — and perhaps the limited minutes return of Utah's Mehmet Okur — that makes this one interesting to watch. The Hornets have won just four times to seven losses since the first meeting, while Utah has won seven of 10 since the Nov. 24 victory.
DALLAS: The Mavericks’ defense has been a huge key to their success this season, but scoring 100-plus has certainly helped. With a 103-98 victory over Portland on Dec. 15, Dallas improved to 13-0 on the year when recording 100-plus points in a game. In the 13 wins, Dallas has shot .492 from the floor, .360 from 3-point range and .811 from the line. The Mavs have held their opponents to an average of 94.9 points and .440 shooting in those 13 100-point efforts. The Mavs were 35-7 (.833) when they scored at least 100 points in a game last season. Only six opponents have recorded 100-plus points against Dallas this season. Dallas is 4-2 in those games.
HOUSTON: With a 118-105 win vs. Sacramento Dec. 14, Houston became winners of its last six home games. The Rockets have now put together a home winning streak of at least six games in each of the past five seasons. It stands as Houston’s best run since accomplishing a similar feat from 1996-97 through 2000-01. Houston's win over Sacramento moved it to 5-1 this season when scoring 100 or more points at home. Overall, the Rockets stand at 107-15 (.877) all-time in games when they hit the century mark at Toyota Center.
L.A. CLIPPERS: Forward Rasual Butler played in his 190th straight game on Dec. 15 in Philadelphia. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Butler is one of just e NBA players to appear in every possible regular season game possible, joining Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo and Jarrett Jack.
L.A. LAKERS: Kobe Bryant, whose Lakers play in Philadelphia Friday, has played 26 games (22 starts) against his hometown Sixers, averaging 22.8 points per game. In January of 2006 against Philadelphia, Bryant established a new franchise record for 3-point field goals without a miss, connecting on all seven of his attempts (10th time in NBA history with a minimum of seven attempts). He finished the game with 48 points, one shy of Jerry West’s Lakers series record of 49 points established in February of 1968. Additionally, Bryant earned the first of his two MVP honors at the 2002 All-Star Game held in Philadelphia.
MEMPHIS: When Zach Randolph goes for at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, everything seems to come together for the Grizzlies. With Randolph averaging 23.6 points and 15.1 rebounds on .588 shooting in his seven 20-10 games, the Grizzlies are 6-1 (compared to a 6-13 mark otherwise). All-time, the Grizzlies are 31-16 when Randolph scores 20-plus points and snares 10-plus boards. He has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in four of his 10 NBA seasons, including last year with Memphis (20.8 points, 11.7 rebounds) in his first All-Star berth. Randolph has gone off for at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game twice this season and has passed Shareef Abdur-Rahim for the most 20-20 games in Grizzlies history (four) with his six career 20-2 performances.
OKLAHOMA CITY: The Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook tandem is currently the highest scoring duo in the league, averaging 50.8 points per game (Bryant and Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers rank second with a 46.5 point per game average). If both players were to hit the 24-plus point per game scoring clip at season’s end, Durant and Westbrook would join some elite company. In the last 10 years only the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson in Denver (2006-07) and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in Los Angeles (three seasons; 2000-02) have each finished the season averaging 24-plus points.
PHOENIX: The Suns have used six different starting lineup through 24 games this season after using eight in 82 games last season. So it might not come as a surprise that the Phoenix bench has scored 23 or more points in every game this season. The Suns last opened a season with 24 straight 23-point bench efforts during the 1996-97 campaign (29 straight); the franchise record is 42 during the 1994-95 season.
PORTLAND: Every player to start a game for the Trail Blazers this season has recorded at least one double-double. At least two different players have recorded a double-double in five games this season — LaMarcus Aldridge (9) and Marcus Camby (7).
SACRAMENTO: Kings radio play-by-play announcer Gary Gerould called his 2,000th Kings game on Dec. 8 when the Kings played host to Washington. Gerould has been the “Voice of the Kings” since the team arrived in Sacramento (1985) and is among the top five in longevity among NBA broadcasters.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter