Forty years ago this month, Buffalo Braves guard Randy Smith came off the bench and had 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists before he was named Most Valuable Player in the NBA All-Star Game. I can still remember watching the game with my buddy, Johnny Owens, in his home down the street.
I was 10 years old when the East beat the West, 133-125, on Feb. 5, 1978, before 15,491 fans, about 1,000 less than capacity at the old Omni Coliseum in Atlanta. There were no dunk contests or three-point shooting exhibitions. In fact, there was no three-point line. It was just a game, and it was competitive.
Smith was a star at Buffalo State who played seven seasons for the Braves and another for the San Diego Clippers in a 12-year career that included stints in Cleveland, New York and Atlanta. He set an NBA record by playing in 906 consecutive games during his career before he retired in 1983.
In honor of Smith, who died in 2009 at age 60, we bring you 30 notes – one for each NBA team – going into the All-Star break.
Shaquille O'Neal had at least 45 points and 15 rebounds seven times in his career, the most of any player since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77. Next on the list is Pelicans star Anthony Davis with six. Last week against Brooklyn, Davis had 44 points and 17 rebounds. Wilt Chamberlain had 45-15 eight times in his first 13 games in 1961-62, the year he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds.
Joel Embiid already has seven 30-point games, the most by any Philadelphia player since Allen Iverson had eight in 2006-07. Embiid had 29 points three times in his last 11 games. It helps having Ben Simmons averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists. The two combined for 60 double-doubles in the first 50 games.
Toronto's magic numbers: 50, 100, 1/2: The Raptors were 15-1 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 24-15 when they did not; were 38-9 when scoring 100 points or more and 3-7 when they score fewer; were 34-7 when leading at halftime and 7-9 when they trailed.
The Rockets opened February with a 22-game stretch that includes only seven home games before March 20. That's fine with them. Their 21-7 record on the road was just behind the Warriors, who were 22-7. Houston and Golden State are the only two teams this season that had won at least 20 games at home and away from home.
Since Elias Sports Bureau began keeping track in 1970, only one player recorded a triple-double in regulation his first NBA start: Celtics guard Terry Rozier. He had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Knicks on Jan. 31. Two days later, in his second start, he had 31 points against the Hawks.
If the Mavericks wonder why they're so lousy, they should check their draft history. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is the only player on the roster who was selected by the Mavs. They have four players who were taken by other teams in the first round and two in the second. Nine others are undrafted free agents.
Fun facts about Heat center Kelly Olynyk: He and Dirk Nowitzki are the only 7-footers with 200 three-pointers and 400 assists in their first four NBA seasons; he and John Stockton are the only players from Gonzaga to score 3,000 points in the NBA; his mother is a former college referee who worked on the Raptors' stats crew.
The Cavs' moves at the trade deadline, designed to disinfect the locker room, validated what I suspected from afar: Kyrie Irving wasn't the problem last year before they traded him. Cleveland has been re-energized with a younger lineup and more depth, which could be enough to convince LeBron James to stick around.
San Antonio has consecutive games on the road against Denver that will be played 10 days apart. They met in San Antonio's last game before the All-Star break and will play in the first game afterward. The Spurs haven't played two straight against the same team in the same arena since 1988, when it had games five days apart at Washington.
Adding to the scheduling quirk, the Nuggets are not playing the Spurs in consecutive games in their own building. Denver traveled to Milwaukee on Thursday for its last game before the break. The Nuggets had the greatest disparity between home and road of any team in the league. They were 23-7 at home, 8-19 on the road.
Bulls guard Zack LaVine, acquired from the Timberwolves in an offseason swap for Jimmy Butler, has come back strong from a torn ACL. In his second game, he became the seventh player in history to record 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in less than 20 minutes. He had a season-high 35 points last week, his fourth straight game with 20 or more, in a win over his former team.
Russell Westbrook leads the league in assists with 10.4 per game, the same average he had in the previous two seasons for the Thunder. Last year, he was the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double. This year, he could become the first to lead the NBA in scoring one year and assists the next.
The Jazz took an 11-game winning streak into the All-Star break after starting the season 19-28. More impressive than the turnaround is guard Donovan Mitchell, the first rookie since Chamberlain in 1959-60 to lead his team in scoring (21.3 ppg) during a 10-plus game winning streak.
Nobody would argue the Wizards are better without John Wall, sidelined six to eight weeks after knee surgery, but it's worth mentioning they won five straight and seven of nine with Tomas Satoransky in the starting lineup. I suspect you didn't have the Czech Republic native in your fantasy lineup to open the season.
Klay Thompson is the only player in history to score 60 points in less than 30 minutes, which he did in 2016-17. Only two others have scored 50 points in less than 30 minutes, and both occurred in the past three weeks while playing for the same team: Portland's Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Knicks looked like a playoff team in December after beating Boston to improve to 17-14 before crumbling under a 6-22 stretch. They have lost eight straight games, including four after Kristaps Porzingis suffered a season-ending knee injury. Five of their next seven games are on the road, where they're 7-24 this season.
Kevin Durant's 50-point game against Portland on Wednesday marked the first time the Warrior scored that many in a loss. Durant has five 50-point games in 11 seasons in the NBA. His career-high is 54 points, which he scored against the Warriors while playing for the Thunder in 2013-14.
Last month, Caris LeVert joined Kerry Kittles and Mookie Blaylock as the only players in Nets history with at least 900 points, 300 rebounds, 250 assists and 100 steals in his first 100 games. He and Bucks forward Malcom Brogdon are the only players from the 2016 draft class to reach the milestones in all four categories.
Strange Stat: The Timberwolves, going into the game Thursday against the Lakers, were 18-22 this season when committing fewer than 15 turnovers, but they were 17-3 when giving the ball away 15 times or more.
Indiana is eight games over .500 even though it returned five players, and just two starters, from its opening-day roster last year. Gone are leading scorers Paul George and Jeff Teague. Myles Turner, 21, is the Pacers' longest-tenured player. Six players are averaging more than 12 points per game, three more than last year.
Vince Carter, at 41 years and 18 days, on Tuesday became the second-oldest player to hand out seven assists. John Stockton was one day older when hitting the mark in 2003. Only four other players (Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash) had seven or more assists in a game after turning 40.
The Lakers have five players 24 years or younger who are averaging double-figures this season. People are infatuated with Lonzo Ball, but he might not even be the best 20-year-old on his team. Brandon Ingram is averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists.
Never mind Blake Griffin. Since entering the NBA in 2012-13, Pistons center Andre Drummond has 107 games with 15 points and 15 rebounds – 29 more than second-place DeMarcus Cousins. Drummond is shooting 62.5 percent from the foul line, up from 38.6 percent last year and the largest improvement of any player this century.
Memphis, with an 18-38 record, already is one loss from matching its total from last season, when it made the playoffs. The Grizzlies look lost without Mike Conley. They were 7-6 when he was sidelined for the season with knee problems that required surgery. They're 11-33 without him and have lost seven straight.
Only five players in the East were averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. Two played for the Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo (26.6, 10.4, 4.7) and Khris Middleton (20-9, 5.3, 4.2). The others were LeBron James (26.5, 8.1, 8.5), Victor Oladipo (24.4, 5.3, 4.1) and Blake Griffin (22.2, 8.0, 5.6).
Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan could join Chamberlain as the only players to lead the NBA in field-goal percentage for six straight seasons. Jordan (65.2) was just behind Houston's Clint Capela (65.4). Jordan had a career-high 30 points Wednesday in his 724th career game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it's the second-most games for a player before his first 30-point effort. to Samuel Dalembert went 753).
Atlanta has the NBA's worst road record at 5-24. Two road victories came in the first 10 games of the season and another came Feb. 4. In between, the Hawks were 2-17 away from home, including a 10-game skid. At one point, they lost 14 straight road games to teams from the Southeast, Atlantic, Central, Southwest and Pacific divisions.
Orlando started the season with an 8-4 record before going 10-35 over its next 45 games. The tumble included two nine-game losing streaks and a seven-game skid. They may regret selecting 6-10 forward Jonathan Isaac sixth overall. Isaac, 20, is listed at 210 pounds but looks lighter. He gets pushed around like a shopping cart.
Phoenix is the only NBA team with a higher winning percentage on the road than at home. It's not a compliment given the Suns are 9-20 on the road.
Hornets center Dwight Howard is one of six players in history to average a double-double in his first 13 seasons. The others are Wilt, Bill Russell, Moses Malone, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. This marks the last time Howard should be mentioned with any of them.