NBA·NBA CHRISTMAS

Harden, Mills combine for 70 points to help Nets hold off Lakers

Stephen Curry had 33 points, Otto Porter Jr. scored seven of his 19 during a key late stretch and the Golden State Warriors regained to top spot in the NBA from Phoenix, beating the Suns 116-107 on Saturday.

Curry finally goes off on Christmas to hand Warriors win over Suns, top spot in NBA

James Harden, centre, had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to propel the Brooklyn Nets past the Los Angeles Lakers 122-155 on Saturday in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Nic Claxton threw down a tie-breaking alley-oop over LeBron James with 40.7 seconds left, and James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets returned from a week-long COVID-19 hiatus to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 122-115 Saturday night.

Harden had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The last helper was a lob that Claxton caught with two hands while soaring over James, who had just helped Los Angeles erase a 20-point deficit. Claxton posterized the 17-time All-Star, then made a free throw for a three-point play and a 118-115 lead.

Patty Mills added 34 points to tie his career-high for the Nets, who had their past three games postponed because they did not have enough players to compete. They were still without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others. Bruce Brown had 16 points and DeAndre' Bembry had 15.

James scored 39 to pass Kobe Bryant for most career points on Christmas Day, but it was not enough to stop the Lakers' losing streak from reaching five. Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for his second career holiday triple-double, and Malik Monk chipped in 20 points.

James passed Bryant with the first of two free throws with 3:52 left in the first half of his 16th game on Christmas, tying Bryant's record for most appearances. James has 422 points on the holiday to Bryant's 395.

After Claxton's alley-oop, Westbrook missed a dunk at the other end, and Harden knocked down four free throws to see out the win.

After falling behind early in the third quarter, the Nets reasserted themselves to close the period with a 102-82 lead thanks to strong shooting from multiple contributors.

Harden paced Brooklyn with nine points, and the Nets knocked down 13 of 21 field goals while forcing the Lakers into another cold streak after struggling to make shots in the first quarter.

Warriors beat Suns, regain top spot in NBA

Stephen Curry had 33 points, Otto Porter Jr. scored seven of his 19 during a key late stretch and the Golden State Warriors regained to top spot in the NBA from Phoenix, beating the Suns 116-107 on Saturday.

Golden State arrived in the desert short-handed, missing three of its top four scorers to health and safety protocols: Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole.

Stephen Curry cracked 20 points for the first time in nine Christmas games as the Golden State Warriors edged the Phoenix Suns 116-107 in Phoenix, Ariz,. on Saturday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Curry carried most of the load, overcoming a mediocre shooting night to crack 20 points for the first time in nine Christmas games. He finished 10 for 27, including 5 for 16 from 3 to help the Warriors end Phoenix's 15-game home winning streak.

Instead of Curry, it was Porter taking over down the stretch, hitting a step-back 3 and a pair of jumpers in a span of 1:02.

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points in the Suns' third loss in 28 games.

The two teams with the NBA's best records played in just the third Christmas game in which both teams had a winning percentage of at least .800.

Playing on Christmas is nothing new to the Warriors. This was their ninth straight Christmas Day game and 11th in 12 seasons. The Suns, once regulars on the Christmas schedule, were in their first since 2009.

Both teams put on an after-the-presents offensive show at Footprint Center, sending oohs and aahs across the arena with each dunk and 3-pointer.

Curry had 11 points in the first quarter and Gary Payton II a massive rebound slam as the Warriors built an early 10-point lead. The Suns revved it up in the second quarter, going on a 15-3 run and taking a 62-58 halftime lead on Paul's last-second 3-pointer.

The teams continued to trade 3s and baskets in transition, neither able to gain any separation until Golden State went on a short run to go up 107-99.

Bucks rally late to defeat Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from the NBA's healthy and safety protocols to score 36 points on Saturday, but Wesley Matthews stole the spotlight when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left to give the Milwaukee Bucks their first lead en route to a 117-113 win over the Boston Celtics.

Seeing his first action since Dec. 12, Antetokounmpo played 30 minutes and connected on 13 of 23 shots while shooting 10 for 15 from the free-throw line. Milwaukee also got centre Bobby Portis and guard Donte DiVincenzo back from COVID-19 protocols in time for the televised Christmas showdown.

Boston had just eight players available after putting Dennis Schroder in the protocols earlier Saturday, but took control behind Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the opening quarter. Jayson Tatum also scored 25 for Boston, which led by as many as 19 and went into halftime with a 35-22 advantage.

Milwaukee trimmed the deficit to one when Middleton knocked down a 3 with 3:39 left in the third. But the Celtics answered with five straight and opened the fourth with a 8-0 run, including six from Parker, who converted a three-point play to make it 102-90 with 10:15 to play.

Portis' put-back with 8 minutes left was the start of the Bucks' charge, tying the game at 111 when Antetokounmpo scored and drew a foul with 1:26 left. He missed the free throw and Brown made a pair on the other end to put Boston back in front.

But Matthews buried his 3 for a 114-113 lead, and the Bucks held on.

Portis finished with 16 points, while DiVincenzo, who hadn't played since suffering a left foot injury in the playoffs last season, got his first and only points on a 3-pointer late in the third quarter.

Jazz sneak past Mavericks

Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points and the Utah Jazz beat the COVID-19-depleted Dallas Mavericks 120-116 on Saturday night.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 25 points and Mike Conley had 22 to lift the Jazz (23-9) to their 13th win in their last 15 games.

It wasn't the Christmas night matchup the NBA hoped for with Luka Doncic among the Mavs stuck in the league's health and safety protocols. Still, it was competitive to the end despite several new signees getting significant minutes for Dallas.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock, Trey Burke, JaQuori McLaughlin and Josh Green were also sidelined in the health and safety protocols for the Mavericks. In addition, Willie Cauley-Stein was out for personal reasons and Dorian Finney-Smith missed the game with a non-COVID illness.

The Jazz still have not lost a player to the coronavirus, and the depth and experience showed as Utah took over in the fourth quarter.

Jalen Brunson scored 27 points and Porzingis returned after two games out with a sore toe to tally 27 points for Dallas. Frank Ntilikina had a season-best 17 points, marking the first time he's scored in double figures in back-to-back games this season.

Knicks coast by COVID-riddled Hawks

Kemba Walker became the seventh NBA player with a triple-double on Christmas, and the New York Knicks beat the depleted Atlanta Hawks 101-87 on Saturday for their first win on the holiday in a decade.

Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks in a matchup of teams that met in the first round of last season's playoffs. But the Hawks were missing Trae Young among nine players in the NBA's health and safety protocols, so it wasn't much of a rematch of Atlanta's five-game victory.

Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot guard raced around the floor trying desperately for his 10th rebound for much of the second half, finally getting it in the fourth quarter when Mitchell Robinson's block came to him.

It was the first triple-double on Christmas since Golden State's Draymond Green in 2017, continuing Walker's strong stretch since going from out of the rotation to back in the starting lineup when the Knicks were short-handed.

Fans in the sold-out crowd chanted "Kemba Walker! Kemba Walker!" for the New York native, who scored 44 points in a loss to Washington on Thursday.

Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes each scored 15 points for the Knicks, who snapped a six-game Christmas skid. They are 23-31 in their league-high 54 appearances, but hadn't won one since 2011.

John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 points for the Hawks, who were playing on Christmas for the first time since 1989. They had their six-game road winning streak snapped.

Young starred in his first playoff series last spring against New York, ignoring profane taunts by Knicks fans and getting the last word when he bowed to them near the close of Atlanta's clinching Game 5 victory.

But he couldn't clear protocols in time for a coveted spot on the Christmas calendar.

The Hawks needed him to be playing.

The Hawks' injury report took three tweets from the team's official account to list, and besides Young featured key players such as Kevin Huerter, Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari. Clint Capela returned from protocols and had six points and nine rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are getting healthier. Grimes made his first appearance since setting a Knicks rookie record with seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points against Milwaukee on Dec. 12. He was then placed into protocols and missed the last five games.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now