The 2016 NBA Christmas schedule started strong with an impressive Boston Celtics win previewing the champions showdown between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the highest rated Christmas game in 12 years. Following LeBron James and Kyrie Irving overcoming Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers made sure their fans had a happy holiday.
Boston Celtics 119 New York Knicks 114: A weird game in the Madison Square Garden, with the Celtics dominating everything from the middle of the second quarter only to let it slip out of their fingers near the end, yet come away with the road win thanks to a big three pointer by Isaiah Thomas. Thomas finished with 27 points, exactly his seasonal average, but the key in this game was defensive plays, especially from Al Horford who finished with 3 steals and 2 blocks to go along with his 15 points. The Knicks big three finished with an impressive 76 points, but 17 turnovers, including nine by Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn combined doomed their attempt to win.
Golden State Warriors 108 Cleveland Cavaliers 109: The rematch of the last two NBA Finals delivered, and also gave us a glimpse of how things changed from a year ago, when the Warriors won on CHristmas, shortly before destroying the Cavaliers in Cleveland and getting David Blatt fired. The Cavaliers won the NBA championship as the Warriors let a 3-1 finals lead slip away. They allowed a 14-point fourth quarter lead to disappear this time, ending with Kyrie Irving hitter a jumper over Klay Thompson before Kevin Durant mishandled the final possession, ending with a turnover/airball. LeBron James led the Cavs with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Irving finished with 25 points, 10 assists and 7 steals, enjoying a reckless performance from Draymond Green and Stephen Curry when it came to passing the ball. Kevin Durant scored 36 points to lead the Warriors, as he fell to 4-18 including the playoffs when facing LeBron.
Chicago Bulls 100 San Antonio Spurs 119: Normally a loss in San Antonio isn’t such a big deal, but the Bulls continue to look bad and disjointed, this time failing defensively in the second half, giving up 64 points after a close game at halftime. LaMarcus Aldridge had one of his best games as a Spur with 33 points on 15-of-20 from the field, while Kawhi Leonard helped out scoring 25. Pau Gasol finished with 12 points in 24 minutes against his former team, while Dwyane Wade led the disappointing Bulls scoring 24 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves 100 Oklahoma City Thunder 112: Russell Westbrook hitting a three pointer in shootaround drew more attention than the game itself, mostly with the Timberwolves to blame due to their abysmal start to the season, falling to a Western Conference worst 9-21. Russell Westbrook scored 31 points to go well with his 15 assists, while the Thunder dominated the paint through Steven Adams (22 points) and Enes Kanter (20 points). Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins continue to put up nice numbers, this time combining to score 49 points on 50% from the field. However, the rest of the team’s inconsistency and the defensive atrocities made it easy for the Thunder to pick up their 19th win this season.
Los Angeles Clippers 102 Los Angeles Lakers 111: No Chris Paul or Blake Griffin meant this game was handed on a platter to the Lakers, getting 19 points from both Nick Young and Timofey Mozgov. Most importantly, the game ended an 11-game losing streak for the Lakers, who had a .500 record before it began.
Eastern Conference Standings
|5||New York Knicks||16||14||.533||7.5||30|
Western Conference Standings
|1||Golden State Warriors||27||5||.844||–||32|
|2||San Antonio Spurs||25||6||.806||1.5||31|
|4||Los Angeles Clippers||22||10||.688||5.0||32|
|6||Oklahoma City Thunder||19||12||.613||7.5||31|
|9||Portland Trail Blazers||13||19||.406||14.0||32|
|11||Los Angeles Lakers||12||22||.353||16.0||34|
|12||New Orleans Pelicans||11||21||.344||16.0||32|