LeBron James pulled a muscle and the Lakers pulled off a major Christmas Day upset, thumping the Warriors 127-101 at Oracle Arena.
James grabbed at his left groin area with 7:51 left in the third after slipping under the Warriors’ basket while trying for a loose ball. As trainers attended to him on the court, James appeared to twice say “I felt it pop” before limping to the visitors’ locker room.
At the time, the Lakers led the Warriors 71-57. Golden State got within 78-76 at the 2:48 mark of the third quarter — but the Lakers’ supporting cast was up for the challenge.
Ivica Zubac attacked the glass and had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo controlled the pace and contributed 15 points and 10 assists off the bench. Seven Lakers scored in double figures, including Kyle Kuzma, who led the team with 19 points.
James, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds in 21 minutes, is scheduled for an MRI exam Wednesday and coach Luke Walton is preparing to be without James on Thursday night in Sacramento.
Walking out of Oracle Arena, James called the Lakers’ victory a “big-time win for us” and wished everybody a Merry Christmas.
— NBA (@NBA) December 26, 2018
Kyrie Irving loves the big stage. He got one on Christmas Day with a matchup against a division rival in front of a national audience and a large group of family members who made the trip to Boston.
“I came in the locker room, and I told [my teammates], ‘My family is here is to watch me play,'” Irving said. “I got 20-plus people from my family here and so I’m acting UP. Like, you guys have no idea, I’m so excited.”
“I told my teammates, I came in the locker room and said, my family’s here to watch me play … I’m acting up. You guys have no idea.”
Kyrie on his big performance in front of 20+ family members: pic.twitter.com/hrpzjXJmaV
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) December 26, 2018
Irving did, in fact, act up. He scored 40 points, including 16 in the first quarter and several clutch shots in crunch time, as the Celtics beat the 76ers 121-114 in overtime.
Irving also grabbed 10 rebounds, marking the first 40-point, 10-rebound game of his career and the first Celtics player to do so since Paul Pierce (Dec. 2, 2005).
James Harden (41 points) and Clint Capela (23 rebounds) got the headlines, but Austin Rivers’ defense was equally important in the Rockets’ 113-109 victory over the Thunder.
Just one day after his first practice with Houston, Rivers played 31 minutes in his Rockets debut and spent most of it hounding Russell Westbrook. Relentless on defense, Rivers limited Westbrook to seven points, four rebounds and three assists in the second half.
Rivers contributed on offense, too, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two clutch 3-pointers down the stretch.
The Rockets, who have won seven of their last eight, also provided the most adorable moment of the day …
— NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2018
Playing on Christmas Day for the first time since 1977, the Bucks showed they belonged on the holiday stage and pulled away from the Knicks 109-95 at Madison Square Garden.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.
Among his many jaw-dropping highlights was this one-dribble dunk following a steal from half court …
• James Harden became the first player to score 40 or more points on Christmas since Kevin Durant had 44 for the Thunder in 2010
• The Knicks have lost six straight Christmas games and fell to 22-31 in their NBA-record 53 appearances on the holiday
• Rudy Gobert’s season-high seven blocks were one shy of the Christmas record … DeAndre Jordan had eight in 2011
• Russell Westbrook passed Scottie Pippen for the most career steals on Christmas with 25