NBA Christmas Day: Nuggets beat Suns in OT thriller

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NBA Christmas Day: Nuggets beat Suns in OT thriller
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NBA Christmas Day: Nuggets beat Suns in OT thriller
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The vacation is right here, and 5 must-see matchups went down within the NBA slate.

Try what occurred on Christmas Day, as Yaron Weitzman, Ric Bucher and Melissa Rohlin share their main takeaways from every primetime contest.

Philadelphia 76ers 119, New York Knicks 112

Present standing: The Sixers are actually 20-12 and at the moment driving an eight-game win streak. The Knicks now fall to 18-16, and have misplaced three in a row. 

Key stats: Joel Embiid continued to stake his declare as the most effective participant within the recreation. He’s main the league in scoring and put up 35 in Sunday’s win.

Main takeaways: The story of this recreation — earlier than and through — was James Harden. An hour earlier than tip-off we acquired the bombshell, courtesy of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that Harden “is critically contemplating a return to the Houston Rockets in free company this July.” Then through the recreation, Harden carved up the Knicks to the tune of 29 factors and 13 assists whereas serving to lead the 76ers to a 119-112 win in Madison Sq. Backyard. The victory was the Sixers’ eighth straight, and it showcased what the crew envisioned when it paired Harden with Embiid. Two dominant gamers (Embiid had 35 factors on 12-for-22 taking pictures), who, when at their greatest, type an unbeatable combo. The query, in fact, was all the time going to be whether or not the celebs have an interest and prepared to work with one another. Video games like this present what it appears to be like like once they do. Experiences just like the one which got here out this morning are why it is comprehensible should you stay doubtful. — Yaron Weitzman

Dallas Mavericks 124, Los Angeles Lakers 115

Present standing: Each L.A. and Dallas have underwhelmed this season. The Lakers are 13-20 and have now misplaced 4 straight. The Mavs are actually 18-16 and have gained three in a row.

Key stats: This season, the Mavs are actually 15-6 when Luka Dončić scores 31 or extra. However he wasn’t alone immediately, as Christian Wood put up 30 and Tim Hardaway Jr. tallied 26.

Main takeaways: The Mavericks dared LeBron James to beat them — the Lakers didn’t dare do the identical with Dončić. Ultimately, Dallas’ recreation of hen proved to be far simpler for a 124-115 win. The Lakers and James, as they often have this season, regarded like a formidable opponent early however light down the stretch. Considerations about Dončić’s supporting forged, in the meantime, appeared well-founded by way of the primary 24 minutes. Forcing the ball out of his palms by double-teaming him as quickly as he crossed half courtroom labored extraordinarily nicely, as Hardaway and Spencer Dinwiddie shot a mixed 1-for-10 for a complete of three factors. The Mavs, in the meantime, had been content material to selectively run a second defender at James, and he took full benefit, scoring 18 first-half factors on 9-for-13 taking pictures for an 11-point Lakers’ halftime lead.

However all that modified within the third quarter. The Lakers continued to double-team Dončić, however faster choices and higher ball motion total resulted in broad open 3s galore. After lacking 12 of 17 long-range makes an attempt within the first half, the Mavs buried seven of 11 within the third quarter and restricted the Lakers to 1-for-6 from the identical vary, all of which resulted in a 31-point swing, Dallas taking a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter. James added 20 second-half factors for a game-high 38, however half of these got here from the free-throw line within the closing interval after the result had been determined. Dončić, having expended minimal power within the first half, got here alive: 22 factors, seven assists (with no turnover) and 6 rebounds to complete one board and one dime wanting a triple-double. — Ric Bucher

Boston Celtics 139, Milwaukee Bucks 118

Present standing: With the win, Boston remained atop the East at 24-10. Milwaukee is now 22-11, because it awaits the return of Khris Middleton as soon as once more.

Key stats: Jayson Tatum went off for Boston in its greatest recreation of the season so far, tallying 41 factors on 14 of twenty-two taking pictures, seven rebounds and 5 assists. The Celtics are 15-3 this season when Tatum scores 30 or extra, 5-1 when he scores 40 or extra, and 12-2 when he shoots 50% or higher from the sphere. 

Main takeaways: When Tatum performs as if he’s the most effective participant within the NBA, the Boston Celtics play just like the league’s greatest crew. That was demonstrated as soon as once more in a battle of the league’s prime two groups within the Christmas Day primetime recreation, the Celtics pulling away from the Bucks for a 139-118 win behind 41 factors from Tatum.

Competitively, the sport was nearer than the ultimate rating may counsel, however the Celtics had been in management many of the night time. The Bucks got here into the sport because the league’s third-best protection, with Brook Lopez being a Defensive Participant of the 12 months candidate, and Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo perennial All-Protection crew selections. However Tatum regarded fully unfazed and had his scoring at each degree — inside, midrange, lengthy vary — working.

For no matter cause, when Tatum performs with confidence, it spreads to the remainder of the Boston squad. Level guard Marcus Sensible was at his environment friendly greatest, scoring solely six factors, however delivering eight assists with just one turnover. Jaylen Brown struggled on the free-throw line (2-for-6) however was clinically environment friendly in all places else (11-19 total, 5-9 on 3s) for 29 factors. Tatum knocked down three of his seven 3s (42.9%) and that impressed strong taking pictures from the whole squad (collectively 19-for-39, practically 50%). The Celtics outscored the Bucks from past the arc, 57-39.

It additionally helped that the Celtics had been as near full energy as they’ve been all season, with heart Robert Williams coming off the bench for his fourth look of the season, and the Bucks weren’t, with All-Star guard Khris Middleton out for a fifth straight recreation. Williams solely enhanced one of many Celtics’ benefits over the Bucks: depth. Boston’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s 40-29.

Antetokounmpo has proven, at occasions, that he can erase that and each different benefit an opponent might need, however this was not a kind of occasions. His plus-minus of -27 was far and away the worst on the crew, and he wanted 22 photographs to attain 27 factors. In a battle between two of the highest MVP candidates this season, benefit: Tatum.

Golden State Warriors 123, Memphis Grizzlies 109

Present standing: Memphis and Golden State are headed in two totally different instructions, however G.S. received a much-needed win Sunday. The Grizz are close to the highest of the West at 20-13, and have gained eight of their final 11. The Warriors are at 16-18, and have misplaced seven of their final 10.

Key stats: Since Steph Curry went down with a shoulder harm, the Warriors are 2-3. And despite the fact that they earned a 16-point win at Toronto on Dec. 18, and a 14-point win on Sunday, their three losses since Curry’s harm have been by a mean of 26.7 factors.  

Main takeaways: I’ve lengthy been saying you may’t rely out the Warriors despite the fact that they’ve vastly struggled this season. On Christmas night, they confirmed why that is true. With out Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors, sitting eleventh within the Western Convention, beat the second-seeded Grizzlies. For the defending champions, Sunday’s recreation was private following their Western Convention semifinals sequence in opposition to the Grizzlies final season, which included quite a lot of trash discuss and chippiness. 

So, with out two of their greatest stars, the Warriors gained by committee. 

Jordan Poole had a team-high 32 factors in 29 minutes. Draymond Green placed on a grasp class in doing the whole lot however scoring, ending with 13 rebounds, 13 assists and an excellent defensive efficiency (whereas solely placing in three factors). And the crew additionally received important contributions from Klay Thompson (24 factors), Donte DiVincenzo (19 factors), Ty Jerome (14 factors), Anthony Lamb (11 factors) and Moses Moody (10 factors). 

The Warriors made 18 3-pointers, twice as many because the Grizzlies. Regardless of a 36-point, seven-rebound and eight-assist efficiency from Ja Morant, the Grizzlies could not overcome the Warriors’ full crew effort. It was an ideal Christmas reward for the injured Curry, who was all smiles as he donned a inexperienced swimsuit and cheered his crew on from the bench. — Melissa Rohlin

Denver Nuggets 128, Phoenix Suns 125 (OT)

Present standing: Denver is within the dialog for greatest crew within the league, sitting atop the West at 21-11 and having gained seven of its final eight. Phoenix, the highest crew within the West from a 12 months in the past, now sits at 19-15 and has solely gained three of its final 11 video games.

Key stats: Reigning MVP Nikola Jokić is arguably getting higher. He’s the one non-point guard within the prime 10 in assists, and after Sunday, he has a league-leading seven triple-doubles on the 12 months.

Main takeaways: The ultimate recreation was maybe probably the most enjoyable. The Nuggets pulled off a 128-125 additional time win over the Suns that included the first-ever 40-plus level triple-double on Christmas from Jokić (41 factors, 15, rebounds and 15 assists) and a monstrous dunk by Aaron Gordon over Landry Shamet with 24 seconds left within the further interval that would catapult him into getting some actual All-Star consideration. 

This nail-biter had six lead adjustments and 6 ties, with each groups main by double digits at occasions. What’s spectacular for the Suns is that they made this such a aggressive recreation despite the fact that Devin Booker solely performed 4 minutes after reinjuring his groin. In his absence, Shamet, a reserve, led the Suns with 31 factors on 10-for-20 taking pictures, together with making seven 3-pointers. 

However monster performances from Jokić, Gordon (28 factors on 11-for-18 taking pictures and 13 rebounds) and Jamal Murray (26 factors, 14 of which he scored within the fourth quarter) catapulted the Nuggets previous the Suns, giving them the most effective current of all on Christmas: the No. 1 seed within the Western Convention. — Melissa Rohlin

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA author for FOX Sports activities. He’s the writer of “Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports.” Comply with him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.

Ric Bucher is an NBA author for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Journal and The Washington Submit and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA ahead Brian Grant’s battle with younger onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He additionally has a every day podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Comply with him on Twitter @RicBucher.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA author for FOX Sports activities. She beforehand coated the league for Sports activities Illustrated, the Los Angeles Instances, the Bay Space Information Group and the San Antonio Specific-Information. Comply with her on Twitter @melissarohlin.


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