Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Day is a great day for basketball fans. With the exception of the shortened 1998 lockout season, games have been played on Christmas Day every year since 1947 and often feature the best of the best. And this year was no exception.
We saw a rematch of the NBA Finals, a battle for Los Angeles, and a matchup of exciting young players between Minnesota and OKC.
The Finals’ rematch was hyped up and did not disappoint. After overcoming a 14-point deficit in the 4th, Kyrie Irving gave the Warriors’ deja-vu with another game-sealing bucket. This time he hit a fade-away jumper with 3.4 seconds with Klay Thompson (24 points, 5-11 3PT) draped all over him.
Klay couldn’t have played any better defense, but better offense won out. (Heck, Klay was even on the wrong end of a Richard Jefferson dunk!)
In addition to the game-winner, Irving finished with an insane stat line of 25 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and 7 steals! THANK YOU KYRIE!!!!
After Irving’s shot, Kevin Durant (36 points, 15 rebounds) had a chance for his very own game-winner, but tripped on Richard Jefferson, falling to ground as time expired.
The Grinch continued to steal Stephen Curry’s mojo on Christmas Day. He finished with only 15 points (4-11 FG), 3 assists, and 3 steals. He’s now averaging 11.8 ppg in his 6 Christmas Day games. Ouch, that’s not what you expect from a guy averaging 22 points a game in his career. Good thing for him, Christmas only lasts one day.
As my last recap of 2016, I hope that everyone has a great holiday season and Happy New Year! And now for the rest of nightly notables:
LeBron James – James did it all on Sunday: 31 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and 4 threes. Prior to Irving’s game winner, James’ even had an earth-shattering and-1 dunk on the Warriors:
Draymond Green – Green finished with a 16/4/4 line.
Jae Crowder – Crowder bounced back from a 3-point showing on Friday to score 16 points (5-9 FG, 3-6 3PT) and grab 6 rebounds.
Al Horford – Horford’s rebounding may be down this year, but he’s still putting up varied lines like 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Isaiah Thomas – Thomas dropped 27 points (9-23 FG, 3-13 3PT), 3 rebounds, and 4 assists for the C’s.
Avery Bradley – The Celtics’ leading rebounder netted 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.
Kelly Olynyk – Coming off the bench, Olynyk posted 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 threes.
Marcus Smart – Smart scored 15 points off the bench, including a tiebreaking three with just under a minute to play. He finished with 15 points, 7 assists, and 2 threes.
Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony – KP and Melo scored every point in a 11-2 run with a minute left in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough as the Knicks lost their 4th straight Christmas Day game. KP posted 22 points, 12 rebounds, 2 threes, 2 steals, and 4 blocks, while Melo added 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Joakim Noah – Noah finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 2. After seeing his minutes dip to as low as 11, Noah has picked it up recently, averaging 10 rebounds and 8.3 points in the last three. He still will need to do more to make him worth a roster spot in standard leagues.
Kawhi Leonard – Per usual, there was nothing that Leonard couldn’t do on Sunday: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, and 3 threes.
Tony Parker – We haven’t seen Parker’s name much in the recaps recently due to DNPs (rest) and uninspired play. On Sunday, he posted 13 points, 3 rebounds, and a season-high 8 assists. He’ll need more consistent play before he’s recommended even as a streamer or a DFS play.
Taj Gibson – Gibson posted 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists,
Dwyane Wade – Wade finished with 24 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. It was the first time that Wade had reached 20+ points in the last 5 games.
Jimmy Butler – Butler produced 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Nikola Mirotic – Mirotic hit 3 threes in the 1st half to keep the Bulls close, but didn’t add much in the 2nd, as he finished with 11 points (3-6 3PT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.
Russell Westbrook – Westbrook continues to post video game numbers: 31 points, 15 assists, and 7 rebounds. With games like that, averaging a triple-double over the course of a season seems like a realistic possibility.
Enes Kanter – Coming off the bench, Kanter added a 20/4/4 line. Kanter now has back-to-back 20 point games for just the second time this season.
Andrew Wiggins – Wiggins added 23 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals. His scoring line could have been even better if he knocked down his free throws (3-8 FT).
Karl-Anthony Towns – The KAT in the hat scored 26 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Ricky Rubio – Rubio continues to pile on the assists lately, finishing with 10 dimes. He also added, 3 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Julius Randle – After sitting out the previous 2 games for personal reasons, Randle returned to post 13 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Luol Deng – Deng has really picked it up in December and now has back-to-back double-doubles. He finished Sunday’s game with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals/blocks each. Grab him if he’s still somehow available in your league.
Timofey Mozgov and Nick Young – Mozgov and Young both scored 19 points, with Swaggy adding 5 triples.
D’Angelo Russell – There’s not much smoother than D’Angelo. Both the R&B singer and basketball player. Russell posted a 14/5/4 line against the Clips.
J.J. Redick – Redick left early in the 2nd half with a sore hamstring. Prior to departing, Redick contributed 22 points, 4 threes, and 3 assists in 26 minutes. Expect an update early in the week.
Raymond Felton – With Chris Paul sitting due to a hamstring strain, Felton started and posted a 8/10/6 line with 2 steals and 2 blocks. Paul was close to playing on Sunday, but didn’t feel quite right in warm-ups. The Clippers will continue to play it safe with their franchise player, with Paul likely to sit again on Monday.
DeAndre Jordan – 7 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 0 blocks. What’s weirder to see: the career-high 6 assists or 0 blocks?!?
Jamal Crawford – J Craw added 22 points and 3 assists off the bench.