John Stockton, Jason Kidd or of course Magic johnson… These should be the answers that come first when you ask someone to name the record holder for assists in an NBA game. But this 31-year record is not the work of an NBA star. December 30, 1990 was Scott Skiles, then the Magic playmaker, who had handed out 30 assists to his teammates. It was during the Magic’s wide victory (155-116) against the Nuggets.
A few years ago, in the club magazine, the former Bulls and Bucks coach told about this crazy night in which he had seen him accumulate 22 pts, 7/13 in shots, 2/3 to 3 pts, 6 rbds, 2 ints. and therefore 30 feet in 44 minutes.
“At the time, the Nuggets and we were the worst teams in the NBA, and we were in the same division (note: Orlando and Denver were in the Midwest division),” recalls Skiles. ” At the time, I had my best season, but there is a lot of talk about me getting transferred. They advertise me in Detroit (defending champs) and watch me every game. I was flattered, but also very happy in Orlando. He was playing a lot and trying to move the franchise forward. “
Tonight, Dec. 30, the Nuggets and their attacking ground-centric style of play and Skiles will seize the opportunity to make history.
“The Nuggets were down with injuries and Michael Adams was the only valid winger. Also, with their new coach Paul Westhead, the Nuggets practiced running and shooting. We knew that with every missed shot we would have counterattacks and easy shots. That night, I felt like I was on a playground. It was a layup contest in which the Nuggets did not challenge shots. After a quarter, we had already added 35 points. At halftime, we were leading 72-49, and he already had 14 assists. “
More than six minutes to make a successful 30 pass
The young franchise record is 18 and it will soon be broken.
“I kept passing, and in the 3rd quarter I broke the franchise record, which had been mine since the start of the season. By the end of the third quarter, he had 25 assists and was close to Kevin Porter’s NBA record (editor’s note: 29, in 1978 with the Nets). I didn’t know because we couldn’t follow him during games. With seven minutes remaining, I sent Reynolds down to the oop alley for my 29th pass. Then the coach called to tell me that if I made one more pass, he would take me out because we won easily. The announcer then announced that he had just equaled the NBA record, and that put pressure on me. I made several passes but my teammates missed their shots or dribbles … “
Finally, they are only 19 seconds from the end that Skiles will achieve this famous 30th pass. “Time was running out, and it was finally on a 20-foot shoot from Reynolds that I broke the record. I was very happy and the audience was screaming. The funniest part was that Reynolds had just screwed up three easy shots on my passes. In fact, he was one of the few in the room who didn’t realize I was missing a pass … “
At that time, the stars of Magic were named Terry Catledge, passed by Pau-Orthez, and therefore Jerry Reynolds. Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson also met in their early days in the league. It wasn’t until a few seasons later, thanks to the Hardaway-O’Neal duo, that the Magic really took off.
As for this record, it has rarely been addressed since 1990, but we will recall the 28 assists of John Stockton in January 1991, and the 25 assists of Kevin Johnson (1994), Jason Kidd (1996) and Rajon Rondo (2017).