The NBA Christmas Matchups Recap
Which Teams Stuffed Their Stockings With W's?
Christmas day, for everyone it’s a time for family and fun. It’s the same for the NBA, five games, watching the best in the world, and some great entertainment. Sounds like a great gift to me, so let’s get into the Christmas Day games.
Atlanta Hawks @ New York Knicks
Final Score: 87 – 101
The Knicks ran away with a win over the Hawks at Madison Square Garden, leaving all Knicks’ fans with a smile on their faces on Christmas Day.
Julius Randle led the game in scoring, putting up 25 points and 12 rebounds off 34 minutes of playing time. Kemba Walker put in a huge 40-minute workload but became the seventh player in history to put up a triple-double on Christmas Day with 10 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. Julius Randle commented his Walker’s performance:
“As a teammate, as a brother, I'm happy for him that he's able to come out and be who he is, I'm sure when he signed to come here this is kind of what he envisioned, playing the type of basketball that he's playing right now.”
John Collins and Devon Wright were the leading scorers for the Hawks, both scoring 20 points. Wright also had a very efficient shooting night, going 8-13 from the floor. Since Trae Young was placed in the health and safety protocol, the Hawks’ have looked for a playmaker, but have struggled to find it with Gorgui Dieng being the leading assist maker with five.
The Knicks never trailed during the game, as they aimed to put on a Christmas show for their family, friends, and fans. They led by nine at the end of the first and then added to their lead, taking a 10-point lead into halftime.
They kept stretching their advantage through the third quarter, leading by as many as 16 before the Hawks cut the deficit to 15 with a quarter remaining. The Knicks got out to a blistering start in the fourth, blowing the lead out to 20 points. Atlanta then scored steadily until a couple of quick shots at the end of regulation cut the deficit to 14, but with no time remaining the win went to the Knicks.
Joining a legendary list:
Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, Billy Cunningham, John Havlicek, and Draymond Green. That’s the list Kemba Walker joined when he picked up his triple-double. It’s pretty good company, wonder if he can go on to beat Robertson’s mark of four now.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
Final Score: 113 – 117
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks took down at the Celtics’ duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in the Fiserv Forum.
Giannis scored a game-high 36 points while going 13-23 from the field and knocking down 10 foul shots. Khris Middleton put up 17 points and 7 assists, Jrue Holiday also equaled him in the scoring department with 17 points. Giannis had been in the health and safety protocols since December 12 and Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer had this to say:
“He's a guy who likes his reps, the touches and feels he gets, it took a half for him to kind of knock the cobwebs off but he had a great second half and I'm really impressed by him."
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, shared the scoring load equally, both scoring 25 points each on workloads that were on the larger side. Marcus Smart chipped in with 19 points as a third option and led the team with 7 assists, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.
The Celtics never trailed through the first three quarters and took a 6-point lead into the final period. From there they built their lead to 13 with 5:28 remaining in the game. The Bucks then kicked into gear, putting together a mammoth 21-6 run. The home side took their first lead 114-113 with 30 seconds remaining off of a Wesley Matthews 3-pointer, Khris Middleton then iced the game with free throws in the remaining seconds, as the home sides are now 2 from 2 for the day.
No longer depleted:
The Bucks brought back Giannis, Bobby Porter, and Donte DiVincenzo for their Christmas clash. Portis had been in the health and safety protocols since December 19, but this was DiVincenzo’s first game this season, the last time he stepped on the floor was during the Playoffs last season.
Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns
Final Score: 116 – 107
The top two sides in the league clashed at the Footprint Center, with the Warriors coming out on top over the Phoenix Suns.
Steph Curry showed out for the bay area, scoring 33 points and knocking down five shots from deep in 37 minutes. Otto Porter Jr. had an efficient night, scoring 19 points off 8-13 from the field. Draymond Green picked up a game-high 10 assists and was great defensively picking up three steals and blocks.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had some words about Curry’s performance.
“Steph was amazing, facing that defense with so much attention on him, missing three of our best shooters. He’s a plus 24. Even when he wasn’t making shots, he was still impacting the game by pulling the defense toward him.”
Devin Booker was held in check by the Warriors, he struggled 13 points and made one of his five three-point attempts in the 40 minutes he spent on the court. Chris Paul led the team in points with 21 and eight assists.
The Warriors led for the majority of the first half but it was the home side who led by four at halftime. During the second half, the sides traded baskets and lead with the scores being tied at 84 with the final period to play.
The Warriors trailed briefly in the fourth, but gained the advantage again with 8:15 remaining and didn’t lose it. The Suns came within two points with 3:01 remaining but failed to score again as the Warriors went onto a 7-0 run and claimed their second win over the Suns this season.
Taking back control:
The win wasn’t the only present for the Warriors, they gained back control of the Western Conference and once again have the best record in the league. The Suns also have the best home record in the league, so that’s just another bonus for the Warriors.
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers
Final Score: 122 – 115
A super-human effort from Lebron James wasn’t enough to take victory on Christmas Day against the Brooklyn Nets who continued their superb road record at the Staples Center.
Backcourt duo Patty Mills and James Harden combined together for 70 points for the Nets, Harden put together the second triple-double of the night and the eighth all-time on Christmas Day, adding 10 assists and 10 rebounds to his 36 points. This follows Kemba Walker who completed the feat a few hours prior.
Former NBA head coach and current ESPN commentator Mark Jackson commented on Mills’ efforts through his career thus far:
“Patty Mills has been very good everywhere he’s gone, also including how special he is in international basketball, he was great for Australia this Summer.”
Lebron James put the team on his back but it wasn’t enough, the four-time league MVP was impressive everywhere, picking up 39 points, seven assists, and nine rebounds, he also produced on the defensive end, picking up three steals.
The Lakers scored the first basket of the game but had to wait until the opening exchanges of the third quarter when Carmelo Anthony knocked down a deep ball to give them a short-lived 2-point lead.
The Nets once again assumed control and took a 20-point lead into the final period. The lead grew to as many as 23 before the Lakers rallied in front of their home fans and tied the game off of a Malik Monk layup with 45 seconds remaining. With the final buzzer approaching, Nic Claxton was fouled as he finished an alley-oop from James Harden which stretched the lead to three. James Harden then took two trips to the free-throw line, knocking down all four shots to close the game out.
The Aussie record-breaker:
Patty Mills might’ve caught fire and dropped 34 points on one of the NBA’s biggest days, but he also went 8-13 from deep. Meaning the Aussie point guard set the record for the most 3-point makes in a game on Christmas day.
Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz
Final Score: 116 – 120
The Utah Jazz defended home court in a tight affair with the Dallas Mavericks at the Vivint Arena.
Donovan Mitchell led the home team with 33 points off 11-26 from the field. He also made 10 shots from the charity stripe and had three steals in 35 minutes. Bojan Bogdanovic put up 14 shots and knocked down nine of them for 25 points, while Mike Conley moved the ball around well for five assists and had 22 points to go with it in the win.
After his performance, Mitchell commented on what the NBA on Christmas means to him:
“I grew up watching these games and wanting to be in this position. To play on Christmas is special. It’s an honor and a blessing, even with guys out, it’s what you ask for. It’s extra emotion, extra drive, just one step below the playoffs. Everybody’s excited and locked in.”
Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson stood tall in the absence of Luka Doncic, as the pair put up 27 points each. The Unicorn also reeled in 9 boards and had two blocks in 34 minutes. Frank Ntilikina was the last of the heavy workers, picking up 17 points in 35 minutes.
Dallas opened up a 16-point lead in the first quarter but only managed to take a 9-point lead into the second. The Jazz took the lead quickly in the second quarter where the sides traded baskets with Utah taking a 2-point lead into the locker rooms.
The scores were tied at 90 apiece heading into the final period, Dallas took a quick lead, but once again Utah took control, not giving up the lead again. The Jazz opened up an 8-point lead with 2:01 remaining, the Mavs fought back, cutting the deficit to four, but weren’t able to threaten Utah’s lead.
Donovan Mitchell put up his ninth 30-point performance of the season so far. He returned to the locker rooms briefly in the first quarter, but returned shortly after and hobbled a little as he torched the Mavs defense.
Next Week’s Games:
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers @ Boston Celtics
Utah Jazz @ Portland Trail Blazers
Philadelphia 76ers @ Brooklyn Nets
Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers
Matt Skilton is a multimedia sports journalism graduate and covers all of your NBA needs at ThePyrrhic.com. Keep watching for recaps, analysis, trade news, and more!
Follow Matt on Twitter @MSkilton16
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