PHOENIX (AP)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.
NETS 122, LAKERS 115
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Nic Claxton threw down a tiebreaking alley-oop over LeBron James with 40.7 seconds left, and James Harden and Brooklyn returned from a week-long COVID-19 hiatus to beat Los Angeles.
Harden had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to become the eighth player with a Christmas triple-double. The last helper was a lob that Claxton caught with two hands while soaring over James, who had just helped Los Angeles erase a 20-point deficit. Claxton posterized the 17-time All-Star, then made a free throw for a three-point play and a 118-115 lead.
Patty Mills added 34 points for the Nets, who had their past three games postponed because they did not have enough players to compete. They were still without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others.
James scored 39 points to pass Kobe Bryant for most career points on Christmas Day, but it was not enough to stop the Lakers’ losing streak from reaching five. Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for his second career holiday triple-double.
JAZZ 120, MAVERICKS 116
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points and Utah beat COVID-19-depleted Dallas.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 25 points and Mike Conley had 22 to lift the Jazz (23-9) to their 13th win in their last 15 games.
It wasn’t the Christmas night matchup the NBA hoped for with Luka Doncic among the Mavs stuck in the league’s health and safety protocols. Still, it was competitive to the end despite several new signees getting significant minutes for Dallas.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock, Trey Burke, JaQuori McLaughlin and Josh Green were also sidelined in the health and safety protocols for the Mavericks. In addition, Willie Cauley-Stein was out for personal reasons and Dorian Finney-Smith missed the game with a non-COVID illness.
BUCKS 117, CELTICS 113
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols to score 36 points, and Wesley Matthews hit a 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left to give Milwaukee its first lead in the Bucks’ victory over Boston.
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 center Bobby Portis and guard Donte DiVincenzo back from COVID-19 protocols.
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 points for Boston, which led by as many as 19 and went into halftime with a 35-22 advantage.
KNICKS 101, HAWKS 87
NEW YORK (AP) – Kemba Walker became the seventh NBA player with a triple-double on Christmas, and New York beat depleted Atlanta for its first victory 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. It was the first triple-double on Christmas since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017. John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 points for the Hawks.
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