Another Christmas day schedule of great NBA games has gone by. The Golden State Warriors keep making history despite not looking too good against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls stop the losing streak in an impressive victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs win streak is stopped by the Houston Rockets, the Miami Heat overcome the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime while the Los Angeles Clippers almost lose a 28 point lead in the fourth quarter against an awful Los Angeles Lakers team. Almost.
New Orleans Pelicans (9-20) 88 Miami Heat (17-11) 94: The Heat win in overtime with a big 30-point game from Chris Bosh, also grabbed 10 rebounds while Dwyane Wade scored 19 points to help him complete the job. The game was tied at 78 after 48 minutes, but 7 points from Bosh and 4 from Wade in overtime made it too much for the Pelicans to keep up with. Anthony Davis put up a nice stat line in 50 minutes (29 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks, 4 assists) while Ryan Anderson added 18 from the bench, but this team is still far from where it was supposed to be according to Alvin Gentry’s grandiose plans. The Heat aren’t exactly without problems of their own, but they do seem to be a bit more resourceful when things ain’t working out.
Chicago Bulls (16-11) 105 Oklahoma City Thunder (20-10) 96: Despite the problems and losses, the Bulls continue to show that their current set of players, before trades are going to be made, are a perfect fit to beat the current Thunder team. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 55 points, but the Bulls didn’t allow them too many easy shots, and certainly not to their teammates, while going very big in long stretches of the game helped Chicago, with Nikola Mirotic starting next to Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson. Jimmy Butler led the way with 23 points and finishing the game with four free throws in the fourth, Gasol manhandled anyone in his way with 21 points and Derrick Rose had a strong first half, finishing the game with 19 points before fouling out. This doesn’t fit against every team in the NBA, but for teams relying on true big men to defend, the Bulls are a handful.
Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8) 83 Golden State Warriors (28-1) 89: No team has started the season so well as the Warriors, even if win 28 was difficult to come by, and wouldn’t have happened without LeBron James playing poorly in the fourth quarter, especially when it came to making shots from the line, finishing the game with just 4-of-9. The Cavaliers know how to stop the 3-point shot and slow down Stephen Curry (19 points, 6-of-15 from the field) but the Warriors were still +15 with him on the floor. James led the Cavs with 25 points, but Kevin Love disappointed on only 5-of-16 from the field, Kyrie Irving was bad with 4-of-15 from the field and the Cavs shot 31.6% from the field and only 16.7% from beyond the arc, playing selfish, unintelligent basketball a lot of the time, which gave the Warriors, led by 22 points from Draymond Green, just enough opportunities to come away with the win.
San Antonio Spurs (25-6) 84 Houston Rockets (16-15) 88: Of all the teams in the world, the Houston Rockets are the ones who end the San Antonio Spurs win streak of 7 games with excellent defense, holding the Spurs to only five 3-pointers and 40.9% from the field, keeping Tony Parker on just 2 points and getting just about enough from James Harden (7-of-21 from the field) who scored 20 points, just like Kawhi Leonard who struggled getting into a rhythm offensively despite his impressive defensive display with 5 steals and 3 blocks.
Los Angeles Clippers (17-13) 94 Los Angeles Lakers (5-25) 84: A weird game which the Clippers were coasting in with a 85-57 lead entering the fourth quarter, which meant both teams benching all their starters. The Lakers got back in the game through D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle until it was just a 7-point game, getting Rivers to put the starters back in the game after the Clippers missed 15 of their first 18 field goal attempts. Kobe Bryant played 26 minutes and didn’t play in the fourth, Byron Scott not feeling like it would help anyone. Chris Paul finished with 23 points to lead the Clippers, while Russell led the Lakers with 16 off the bench. Bryant, playing in his final Christmas day special, finished with 12 points.
Eastern Conference Standings
|12||New York Knicks||14||16||.467||6.5||30|
Western Conference Standings
|1||Golden State Warriors||28||1||.966||–||29|
|2||San Antonio Spurs||25||6||.806||4.0||31|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||20||10||.667||8.5||30|
|4||Los Angeles Clippers||17||13||.567||11.5||30|
|13||Portland Trail Blazers||11||20||.355||18.0||31|
|14||New Orleans Pelicans||9||20||.310||19.0||29|
|15||Los Angeles Lakers||5||25||.167||23.5||30|