Tickel your fancy: NBA Christmas Day recap
The league had several noteworthy revelations during the annual Dec. 25 slate of games.
There was the good, the bad and the unfortunate.
Let’s start with the positive.
The Houston Rockets had the most convincing game of the day against the defending Western Conference Champions San Antonio Spurs.
In a hostile environment on the road the Rockets beat a fellow Texas team 111-98.
Small forward Chandler Parsons guided his team in the early going. He knocked down his first four 3-pointers, a couple of which were deep 3-point range. He finished the game with 21 points, tied for second on the team.
In the fourth quarter it was shooting guard James Harden’s show. He showcased his plethora of moves with fadeways, 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and getting the rack.
He had 16 fourth-quarter points including a phase where he scored 7-straight Houston points. Harden had a game-high 28 points.
The most impressive stat of the day was the balance from the Rockets. All five starters finished with double-digit scoring.
Power forward Dwight Howard finished the game with 20 rebounds for the fourth time this season.
I have an inkling that this Rockets team will be playing deep into May after this statement win.
The Los Angles Clippers and Golden State game produced the most drama of the day.
Not only was it the closest game of the day, there were intense moments that led to the ejection of power forward Blake Griffin of the Clippers and small forward Draymond Green of the Warriors.
This game left home Warrior fans satisfied after what felt like a clutch playoff win, 105-103.
In the end Clipper point guard Chris Paul was the goat with three failed drives to the basket in the final minute that could have tied the game. He missed two contested layups and had the third swatted.
The next time these two teams meet there is sure to be bad blood, but hopefully both teams will be at full-strength for the entirety.
Those were the two games that showed why I love to watch the NBA.
The bad included a win from my Chicago Bulls.
Chicago pulled away from the Nets in Brooklyn in the second half for a 95-78 win.
The first half the two teams played to a stale 41-38 stanza, in which the Bulls led.
Had it not been for the heroics of the Bulls’ bench this game could have been much tighter.
Power forward Taj Gibson scored a game-high 20 points as a reserve on 9-for-15 shooting. Point guard D.J. Augustin chipped in with 13 points off the bench.
There were six Chicago players in double-digit scoring.
Chicago improves to 11-16 as it has struggled to find a way to play without former MVP Derrick Rose, who tore his meniscus this season.
This game showcased the Bulls’ ability to grind out games, and while the Nets are no juggernaut dispatching of them easily on TV on Christmas will do the trick for a day.
The Nets had many pundits picking them to contend for a title this year.
So for now the glass is half full for Chitown making a push for the postseason.
To quote Dumb and Dumber, “So you are telling me there’s a chance.”
I never thought I would say this but with Kobe off the floor for Christmas Day action for the first time since 1998, I actually missed him.
I guess that is what happens when the Miami Heat make a trip to L.A. I’m not sure which team getting knocked off brought me more joy, the current Heat team or L.A. with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Bryant and Shaq were perfect complements. The Heat come off as being showy and arrogant.
With a team laden with young lottery picks LA made a statement. It fought to a 101-95 loss.
The Lakers led after one quarter 27-21.
The two teams were tied at 81 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers were outscored 20-14 the rest of the way.
The unfortunate was that we had to sit through another New York team — this time the Knicks, who joined the Nets with a 9-19 record after a blowout home loss.
The Oklahoma City Thunder topped the Knicks 123-94.
Small forward Kevin Durant poured in a Christmas Day-high 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting with four treys for the Thunder.
Guard Russell Westbrook had the eighth-career triple-double on Christmas with 14 points, 10 assists and 13 boards.
There were five Oklahoma City players with at least 13 points.
I guess the Knicks can throw out the excuse that starters Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony were sidelined.
Based on the results from Christmas it’s pretty evident that Miami is on course to make its fourth-straight Finals appearance against a Western team not named the Spurs.