The NBA on Christmas spectacle might have been missing a star or two from the lineup, but there was plenty of good basketball to go around, as the Miami Heat were more interested in entertainment during their win over the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Houston Rockets won on the road against the San Antonio Spurs to show they’re worth considering as title contenders.
Both New York teams looked awful, losing at home to the Chicago Bulls (Nets by 18 points) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (Knicks by 29 points). The closing game of the night between the Clippers and Warriors was the best one, as Golden State enjoyed a wrongful ejection (Blake Griffin) to become the only home court winner of the evening.
Chicago Bulls 95 Brooklyn Nets 78: Both teams weren’t going into this game with too much confidence or swagger going on, but it clearly showed who is the bigger mess right now. The Nets drop to 9-19, shooting only 35.2% from the field and look like a bunch that has completely given up on trying to get out of the hole they’re in. The Bulls are still without Deng, but did have Jimmy Butler (15 points) and Kirk Hinrich back, and were led by a strong performance on both ends from Taj Gibson (20 points, 8 rebounds).
Oklahoma City Thunder 123 New York Knicks 94: Russell Westbrook needed only 29 minutes to finish with a 14-13-10 triple double, as the Thunder rolled with ease over the Knicks. This isn’t far from an actual portrayal of how far off these teams are at the moment, although Carmelo Anthony not playing probably hurt them quite a bit. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka combined to score 53 points on 66.7% from the field, while the Knicks looked awful at every stage, led by 22 points from Amare Stoudemire, mostly in garbage time.
Miami Heat 101 Los Angeles Lakers 95: The Heat have the Lakers’ number on Christmas, improving to 4-0 all time. Kobe Bryant watched from the sidelines as LeBron James rocked the rim numerous times, but the Heat seemed to constantly let the Lakers back into the game. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade led the Heat each scoring 23, with James following with 19. Nick Young led the Lakers with 20 points, but the team came short on both ends of the floor in crunch time.
Houston Rockets 111 San Antonio Spurs 98: With wins like this, the Rockets look like title contenders, beating the Spurs in San Antonio for a second time this season. James Harden was back, looking healthy and mobile, scoring 28 points. Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones added 21 each, while the entire lineup, including Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin, finished in double figures. The Spurs got 22 points from Ginobili, but the rest looked tired and pretty bad.
Los Angeles Clippers 103 Golden State Warriors 105: The good thing? We’ve got an actual rivalry going on. The bad? The referees messed this one up, allowing the dirty tactics the Warriors used benefit them, getting Blake Griffin ejected even though he didn’t really retaliate to anything done to him. Basketball-wise, Klay Thompson and David Lee each scored 23 points for the Warriors, while Chris Paul led the Clippers, scoring 26 points and adding 11 assists.