An almost full slate of games just before Christmas gave us a dominant performance by the NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers over the falling apart Brooklyn Nets, while the Golden State Warriors won their 7th in a row, leaninng on Kevin Durant to lead them in a tough game against the Detroit Pistons.
Chicago Bulls 91 Charlotte Hornets 103: The Bulls lose again and fall beneath .500, struggling to play like a cohesive unit. The Hornets were led by a Nicolas Batum triple double (20-11-10) while Kemba Walker added 20 himself, as the Hornets maintain their top 4 status in the East.
Los Angeles Lakers 90 Orlando Magic 109: The Lakers scored just 14 points in the first quarter and never really recovered. Elfrid Payton came off the bench and scored 25 points, Serge Ibaka had a dominant night with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 18 points, as they lost their fourth in a row.
Brooklyn Nets 99 Cleveland Cavaliers 119: The Nets are in freefall, losing their 5th consecutive game, tied for worst record in the East. The Cavaliers broke them early and finished with 7 players in double figures, led by 19 points from LeBron James.
Oklahoma City Thunder 117 Boston Celtics 112: Russell Westbrook (45 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) and Isaiah Thomas (34 points, 10 assists) had themselves a nice duel. But Boston got close to nothing from their bench and about a minute with no points lost them the lead and the game in the fourth. Enes Kanter and Domantas Sabonis scored 20 points each.
Golden State Warriors 119 Detroit Pistons 113: The Warriors were neck and neck with the Pistons all game long, until the final moments when they broke loose. Stephen Curry bounced back from a poor performance to score 25 points, Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 32. Tobias Harris came off the bench to score 26, with Detroit unable to prevent a 7th straight win for the Warriors.
Washington Wizards 96 Milwaukee Bucks 123: The legend of Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to grow, scoring a career-high 39 points while sidekick Jabari Parker helped out with 21 points. Malcolm Brogdon had a strong day off the bench with 17 points.
Houston Rockets 109 Memphis Grizzlies 115: Two approaches clashed, and the “old-school”, simple Grizzlies won the game. James Harden couldn’t get to the line (finished with 16 points and 17 assists) which held back the Rockets, while Mike Conley led Memphis with 24 points. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph each finished with 16.
Miami Heat 87 New Orleans Pelicans 91: Jrue Holiday provided a strong “assist” to Anthony Davis with 22 points, while the team’s best player pulled off a 28 points, 22 rebounds performance, including 4 blocks. Goran Dragic led the Heat with 23 points.
Sacramento Kings 109 Minnesota Timberwolves 105: The Timberwolves defense continues to drag them down, this time unable to handle DeMarcus Cousins with 32 points. This let Zach LaVine and his 40-point performance go to waste, with Minnesota falling to 9-20 this season.
Atlanta Hawks 109 Denver Nuggets 108: The Hawks avoided certain defeat with a late 9-0 run, including two clutch free throws by Paul Millsap. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 27 points, Danilo Gallinari finished with 21 for the Nuggets.
Toronto Raptors 104 Utah Jazz 98: The tandem of Kyle Lowry (36) and DeMar DeRozan (24) was too much for the Jazz, turning the ball over 16 times and sufferring once again from the abysmal contributions of Boris Diaw in the starting lineup.
Philadelphia 76ers 116 Phoenix Suns 123: Joel Embiid with 27 points and Sergio Rodriguez adding 21 weren’t enough against a dynamic performance by the Suns, led by a combined 47 points from Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.
San Antonio Spurs 110 Portland Trail Blazers 90: Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points, Patty Mills added 23 and the Spurs sunk the Blazers even further down from a playoff spot (although it might be too soon to use that terminology). Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for just 32 points and 12-of-35 from the field.
Eastern Conference Standings
|5||New York Knicks||16||13||.552||6.5||29|
Western Conference Standings
|1||Golden State Warriors||27||4||.871||–||31|
|2||San Antonio Spurs||24||6||.800||2.5||30|
|3||Los Angeles Clippers||22||9||.710||5.0||31|
|6||Oklahoma City Thunder||18||12||.600||8.5||30|
|9||Portland Trail Blazers||13||19||.406||14.5||32|
|11||New Orleans Pelicans||11||21||.344||16.5||32|
|12||Los Angeles Lakers||11||22||.333||17.0||33|