There were 14 games on the NBA docket on Friday, but one of the busiest nights of the season ended up being a bit disappointing from a competitive standpoint. Nine of those 14 contests were decided by double-digits, including three by 30-plus points and another three by at least 20.
But while there wasn’t much drama, there was a lot going on from a statistical and historic perspective. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting notes from Friday’s action.
Celtics stay undefeated at home
The Jazz were the unlucky team that had to face the Celtics at TD Garden just days after the league’s best team saw their desperate fourth-quarter comeback attempt fall short against the Thunder. Back at home on Friday, the Celtics took out their frustration on the Jazz with a dominant 126-97 victory. They were up by double-digits for the final 42 minutes, and led by as much as 36 along the way.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 17-0 at the Garden, and remained the only team with a perfect home record this season. That ties the longest home winning streak to start a season in franchise history. The Celtics are still well off the all-time record, which was set by the 2015-16 Spurs, who won their first 39 at home.
Jayson Tatum put on a show in Boston as the Celtics improved to 17-0 at home!
30 PTS / 9 REB / 5 AST / 5 3PM pic.twitter.com/03KUThFOlV
— NBA (@NBA) January 6, 2024
Embiid’s streak continues in defeat
The Sixers had a rough night, losing by 36 to the new-look Knicks, in part because Joel Embiid was unable to assert his will. New York hounded Embiid, who tweaked his ankle early on, and limited him to 10-of-23 from the field — one of his least-efficient outings all season.
Even so, Embiid was able to keep his historic 30-point, 10-rebound streak alive by hitting a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with 30 points and 10 rebounds on the dot. He’s now hit those marks in 15 consecutive games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to accomplish that feat. Chamberlain, remarkably, did so 67 games in a row during the 1961-62 season, which is the all-time record.
Pacers make more offensive history
The last time the Pacers and Hawks played, they combined for a staggering 309 points in regulation. As expected, their meeting on Friday was another offensive showcase, though this time around the Pacers were the only team participating. They stayed red-hot, shooting 63.8% from the field en route to a 150-112 win — their sixth in a row.
In the process they set a new franchise record for assists with 50, which is tied for the seventh-most in a game in NBA history. In fact, this is just the 11th time that a team has reached that mark, and only the second time this century. Tyrese Haliburton, who leads the league with 12.8 per game, dished out 18 by himself in just 25 minutes.
For the season, the Pacers now have three games where they scored 150 points. The rest of the league combined has three such games, all of which came against the Pacers. If you like offense, tune in when Indiana is involved.
Banchero gets first triple-double, leads Magic comeback
Late on Friday, the shorthanded Magic pulled off an incredible 18-point comeback to stun the defending champion Nuggets. Paolo Banchero came up clutch down the stretch with two free throws to tie the game with 35 seconds remaining, and another pair to win it with 10 seconds left.
While he didn’t have his best shooting night — 8-of-21 from the field — Banchero finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to record the first triple-double of his career. The 11 assists were a career-high, and he either scored or assisted on 59 of the Magic’s 122 points.
Banchero’s first triple-double came just two nights after he set a new career-high with 43 points in the Magic’s loss to the Kings. The Magic’s comeback ended a three-game losing streak and brought their grueling West Coast road trip to an end in style.