NBA Christmas Day Recap
I hope yesterday was a blessed, safe Christmas for all of you, and I wish you all a speedy recover from your current food hangover. Just as food, family, and gifts were plentiful, so were NBA games. Here’s a recap for those who were stuck at their in-laws yesterday.
Streaking in Los Angeles
The Lakers and Clippers both won in a double-feature at the Staples Center, extending their win streaks to 5 and 13 games, respectively. Kobe Bryant scored 34 in leading the Lakers over New York 100-94 and back to .500. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash both recorded double-doubles as the Lakers had 5 players with at least 13 points.
In the Staples Center nightcap, the Clippers defeated Denver 112-100. Outscored in the paint (58-62), on fast breaks (18-21), and from the line (11-17), the Clippers made their living behind the arc, going 11-25 (44%) and holding Denver to only 23%. Matt Barnes, in one of the more complete performances of the day, filled the box score with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Jamal Crawford led all scorers with 22 points.
Rematch in Miami
In a rematch from last year’s Finals, the Miami Heat outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 103-97. Kevin Durant led all players with 33 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 but on 5-19 shooting, and LeBron James recorded 29 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. The Heat outscored the Thunder 42-28 inside the paint. While watching another game, my aunt, a self-proclaimed basketball expert, was disgusted by how NBA professionals, making millions of dollars, could not make a free throw. Her new favorite team is now Miami, who went 19-19 from the line. The Heat improved to 14-2 at home and have now defeated the Thunder in 5 straight games, going back to last year’s Finals.
Battle in Brooklyn
While recaps and stories often use the word ‘battle’ to describe two teams competing, this game literally embraced the term. Boston defeated Brooklyn 93-76, however the basketball was not the entertainment. Instead, fans were treated to a holiday special of yelling, shoving, pushing, arguing, and more of the sort. Each team recorded 2 technicals while Boston also added a flagrant foul.
Blowout in Chicago
On the road in Chicago, Houston blew out the Bulls by a score of 120-97. Leading by as much as 35, the Rockets shot 56.1% from the field and 40% from deep, shooting the Bulls out of their own gym. Houston outscored Chicago by 31 points in the paint, holding Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to a combined 12 points. Former Bull Omer Asik recorded a double-double (20 points & 18 rebounds), James Harden added 26 points, and Jeremy Lin added a double-double of his own (20 points & 11 assists). Chicago’s Nate Robinson led all players with 27 points. Houston is now 11-2 against the Eastern Conference (4-10 against the West).
Houston (24.8 APM) and Chicago (-21.0 APM) recorded the highest and lowest single-game Adjusted Power Margin totals from yesterday’s games.
Adjusted Power Margin (APM) considers how NBA teams perform against their strength of schedules and is the best reflector of overall performance. Teams are rewarded for playing well against stronger teams and punished for playing poorly against weaker teams.