Christmas Day is one of the biggest game nights in the NBA, with schedule makers trying to ensure that marquee teams get action as everyone celebrates the holidays.
The 2021 edition proved no different, and the league’s brightest stars did not disappoint.
Steph Curry and the Warriors have taken back the league’s best record
Steph Curry and the Warriors were shorthanded heading into an away game against the Suns, with key rotation players like Andrew Wiggins unavailable. That didn’t seem to bother them, though, as they rallied behind Curry’s 33 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, one block, and one turnover. Curry didn’t shoot particularly well, going 10 of 27 overall and 5 of 16 from three, but he did enough to help the Dubs take a huge 116-107 win in Phoenix.
Otto Porter Jr. chipped in 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting, while Gary Payton II continued to prove his worth with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 6 of 9 shooting. Draymond Green had another one of those all-around games, finishing with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks.
The Warriors are always most dangerous when they’re playing as a team and moving the ball around, and they showed that again today. Curry’s career record against Chris Paul improved to 21-14 today. Oh, and did I mention that Curry’s riding a hot hand again and has scored no less than 30 points in his last four games, including a 46-point outburst the other day?
Another great performance from LeBron James was wasted
The Brooklyn Nets headed into LA as small underdogs, but played like the favorites for most of the game. They were pretty merciless from the jump, finishing the first quarter with a 38-23 lead and pushing that all the way up to a 23-point advantage at one point.
The Lakers continue to flounder in the absence of Anthony Davis, and continued superhuman performances from LeBron James are simply not enough thanks to their lack of depth. James had another vintage performance with 39 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and a block with just 3 turnovers. He shot 14 of 25 overall and was the only Lakers starter with a positive plus/minus at +9.
The rest of the Lakers’ starting five scored less than James, and even though Russell Westbrook had a triple-double of 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, he finished with a plus/minus of -23.
On the other side of the coin, James Harden got plenty of help, even while also similarly short-handed. While Harden led the Nets with his own triple-double of 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Patty Mills also had a big one. The Australian guard, who joined the Nets in the offseason after leading Australia to their first-ever Olympic basketball medal, shot 11 of 17 from the field and 8 of 13 from deep on the way to 34 points and 7 assists.
While the Lakers did make a game of it in the end by having a 33-20 fourth quarter, it was a case of too little, too late. You’ve got to start wondering what’s going through the mind of LeBron. The Lakers have had the easiest schedule so far this season, and now are heading into a brutal stretch.
Giannis Antetokounmpo made a triumphant return
The Greek Freak has undoubtedly been itching to get back on the court since entering health and safety protocols, and he finally got his wish against the Boston Celtics.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 50 points, while Robert Williams III had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and it looked like they had a chance of cruising to a win after opening up a 62-47 lead heading into the second half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had something to say about that, especially at the end of the game. With 5:28 left in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still held a 109-96 advantage. However, Antetokounmpo turned it on from that point, personally keying an 21-4 run that saw him score 12 points and dish out one assist, and make a big block on a dunk attempt from Williams with 8.6 second left.
The Bucks, who currently hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference, will be ecstatic to see Antetokounmpo back and playing at his very best.
Kemba Walker drops a triple-double as the Knicks beat Atlanta
The New York Knicks have basically been in a free-fall the entire month of December, having gone 3-9 heading into their game against the Atlanta Hawks. Kemba Walker seemed to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the blame, as Tom Thibodeau decided to remove him from the rotation completely until health and safety protocols ravaged their roster. Kemba’s revenge tour had been pretty good heading into the game against the Hawks, and while he didn’t score as well while shooting 3 of 12 from the field, he still led New York with a triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Kemba’s outfit game was on point, too.