Bucks rally late to defeat Celtics in Antetokounmpo’s return

Stephen Curry had 33 points, Otto Porter Jr. scored seven of his 19 during a key late stretch and the Golden State Warriors regained to top spot in the NBA from Phoenix, beating the Suns 116-107 on Saturday.

Golden State arrived in the desert short-handed, missing three of its top four scorers to health and safety protocols: Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole.

Curry carried most of the load, overcoming a mediocre shooting night to crack 20 points for the first time in nine Christmas games. He finished 10 for 27, including 5 for 16 from 3 to help the Warriors end Phoenix’s 15-game home winning streak.

Instead of Curry, it was Porter taking over down the stretch, hitting a step-back 3 and a pair of jumpers in a span of 1:02.

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points in the Suns’ third loss in 28 games.

The two teams with the NBA’s best records played in just the third Christmas game in which both teams had a winning percentage of at least .800.

Playing on Christmas is nothing new to the Warriors. This was their ninth straight Christmas Day game and 11th in 12 seasons. The Suns, once regulars on the Christmas schedule, were in their first since 2009.

Both teams put on an after-the-presents offensive show at Footprint Center, sending oohs and aahs across the arena with each dunk and 3-pointer.

Curry had 11 points in the first quarter and Gary Payton II a massive rebound slam as the Warriors built an early 10-point lead. The Suns revved it up in the second quarter, going on a 15-3 run and taking a 62-58 halftime lead on Paul’s last-second 3-pointer.

The teams continued to trade 3s and baskets in transition, neither able to gain any separation until Golden State went on a short run to go up 107-99.

The Suns pulled within two, but Porter hit consecutive jumpers and a long 3 to stretch Golden State’s lead to nine.

Bucks rally late to defeat Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols to score 36 points on Saturday, but Wesley Matthews stole the spotlight when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left to give the Milwaukee Bucks their first lead en route to a 117-113 win over the Boston Celtics.

Seeing his first action since Dec. 12, Antetokounmpo played 30 minutes and connected on 13 of 23 shots while shooting 10 for 15 from the free-throw line. Milwaukee also got centre Bobby Portis and guard Donte DiVincenzo back from COVID-19 protocols in time for the televised Christmas showdown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo played for 30 minutes and scored 36 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks edge the Boston Celtics 117-113 on Saturday in Milwaukee (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Boston had just eight players available after putting Dennis Schroder in the protocols earlier Saturday, but took control behind Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the opening quarter. Jayson Tatum also scored 25 for Boston, which led by as many as 19 and went into halftime with a 35-22 advantage.

Milwaukee trimmed the deficit to one when Middleton knocked down a 3 with 3:39 left in the third. But the Celtics answered with five straight and opened the fourth with a 8-0 run, including six from Parker, who converted a three-point play to make it 102-90 with 10:15 to play.

Portis’ put-back with 8 minutes left was the start of the Bucks’ charge, tying the game at 111 when Antetokounmpo scored and drew a foul with 1:26 left. He missed the free throw and Brown made a pair on the other end to put Boston back in front.

But Matthews buried his 3 for a 114-113 lead, and the Bucks held on.

Portis finished with 16 points, while DiVincenzo, who hadn’t played since suffering a left foot injury in the playoffs last season, got his first and only points on a 3-pointer late in the third quarter.

Knicks coast by COVID-riddled Hawks

Kemba Walker became the seventh NBA player with a triple-double on Christmas, and the New York Knicks beat the depleted Atlanta Hawks 101-87 on Saturday for their first win on the holiday in a decade.

Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks in a matchup of teams that met in the first round of last season’s playoffs. But the Hawks were missing Trae Young among nine players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, so it wasn’t much of a rematch of Atlanta’s five-game victory.

Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot guard raced around the floor trying desperately for his 10th rebound for much of the second half, finally getting it in the fourth quarter when Mitchell Robinson’s block came to him.

It was the first triple-double on Christmas since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017, continuing Walker’s strong stretch since going from out of the rotation to back in the starting lineup when the Knicks were short-handed.

Fans in the sold-out crowd chanted “Kemba Walker! Kemba Walker!” for the New York native, who scored 44 points in a loss to Washington on Thursday.

Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes each scored 15 points for the Knicks, who snapped a six-game Christmas skid. They are 23-31 in their league-high 54 appearances, but hadn’t won one since 2011.

John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 points for the Hawks, who were playing on Christmas for the first time since 1989. They had their six-game road winning streak snapped.

Young starred in his first playoff series last spring against New York, ignoring profane taunts by Knicks fans and getting the last word when he bowed to them near the close of Atlanta’s clinching Game 5 victory.

But he couldn’t clear protocols in time for a coveted spot on the Christmas calendar.

The Hawks needed him to be playing.

The Hawks’ injury report took three tweets from the team’s official account to list, and besides Young featured key players such as Kevin Huerter, Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari. Clint Capela returned from protocols and had six points and nine rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are getting healthier. Grimes made his first appearance since setting a Knicks rookie record with seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points against Milwaukee on Dec. 12. He was then placed into protocols and missed the last five games.

Original article: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/nba/nba-christmas-roundup-1.6298302?cmp=rss

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