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On This Date in Sports December 30, 1990: 30 Dimes on the 30th

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Scott Skiles provides some smiles for the Orlando Magic as he sets an NBA record with 30 assists. The Magic used Skiles' big night to beat the Denver Nuggets 155-116 at the Orlando Arena. The 30 dimes set a new single-game record, topping the 29 assists from Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets on February 24, 1978. John Stockton of the Utah Jazz had 28 assists in a game against the San Antonio Spurs two weeks later, but nobody has come close since. 


Scott Skiles was born on March 5, 1964, in La Porte, Indiana. After leading Plymouth High School to the Indiana State Championship, Skiles played his college ball at Michigan State, following Magic Johnson's footsteps in the Spartans point guard tradition. In his senior season at Michigan State, Scott Skiles was named All-American as he was voted Big Ten MVP. 


Scott Skiles was taken late in the first round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. After being taken with the 22nd pick, Skiles saw limited action in his rookie season in Milwaukee, appearing in 13 games. He was traded to the Indiana Pacers after one season with the Bucks. In Indiana, Scott Skiles played more often but rarely started. After the 1988/89 season, his third in the league, Scott Skiles was left unprotected and selected by the Orlando Magic in the expansion draft. 


With the expansion Orlando Magic, Scott Skiles began to see regular playing time. The Magic had a typical expansion type record in their second season for coach Matt Guokas, holding a record of 6-23 in the final game before the New Year. The Denver Nuggets were not an expansion team but resembled one as they decided to rebuild for coach Paul Westhead and entered the game with a record of 6-22.   

 The best assist men in the NBA were John Stockton and Magic Johnson, who are still atop the NBA All-Time assist leaders. However, on one magical Sunday night in Orlando, Scott Skiles, affectionally called Spunk by his teammates, had the night of his life. Skiles never had a 20 assist game before and never did it again. He never averaged ten assists per game but facing a defensively helpless Nuggets team, Scott Skiles found the open man every time. Through the first half, Skiles had 14 dimes as the Magic 72-49 lead at the half. 


After adding ten assists in the third quarter, coach Matt Guokas learned that Scott Skiles was approaching the record set by Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets in 1978. Skiles got six more assists to set the record and become the first player in NBA history with 30 assists in one game. Scott Skiles scored 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Magic put up 45 points on the way to a 155-116 win. Skiles finished the game with 22 points as Jerry Reynolds, coming off the bench, was the game’s top scorer with 27 points, while Terry Catledge had 25 points as eight players on Orlando had at least 13 points. 


Scott Skiles would be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 1991, but never had a night like he did against the Nuggets in 1990.