OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - The Los Angeles Lakers lost LeBron James in the third quarter to a strained left groin then went out and beat the two-time defending champions without him Tuesday night, getting King James’ 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists before the injury in a surprising 127-101 rout of the Golden State Warriors.
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. He tried to stretch it out, awkwardly walked toward the Lakers bench trying to loosen up before leaving on his own, though gingerly, out the tunnel for the locker room.
Stephen Curry made consecutive 3s shortly after James exited, and the Warriors got within 78-76 at the 2:48 mark of the third — but Kyle Kuzma and the persistent Lakers stayed at it every possession. Curry wound up with 15 points but the home fans had seen enough well before the final buzzer and headed out for the rest of Christmas.
Kuzma contributed 19 points with a pretty baseline 3 late, Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo 15 points and 10 assists off the bench as the Lakers snapped an 11-game losing streak on the Warriors’ home floor since a 118-115 overtime win Dec. 22, 2012. Los Angeles also ended a seven-game skid overall in the rivalry with its first win in the series since March 6, 2016.
James made it look easy early on, shooting over Jonas Jerebko and Kevon Looney. James hit a turnaround jumper at the 4:39 mark of the second quarter to put the Lakers ahead 52-37 and L.A. led 65-50 at the break.
It was James’ second straight Christmas game at Oracle Arena after playing here with the Cavaliers last year and losing 99-92.
Lakers coach Luke Walton — a former Warriors top assistant and dear friend of Steve Kerr — got some time with his Hall of Fame dad, Bill, before the game and a few moments to catch up with Curry and share holiday greetings in the hallway after the two-time MVP’s warmup routine.
Kevin Durant, playing on a tender left ankle, had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Andre Iguodala came off the bench and made his initial five shots and 7 of 9 by halftime on the way to a season-high 23 points while also handling some of the load defending James.
Golden State shot just 9-for-36 from deep, Curry going 2 of 8 and Durant 3 of 8.
Celtics 121, Sixers 114 (OT)
In Boston, Kyrie Irving scored six of his 40 points in overtime, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers while leading the Celtics back from a five-point deficit to beat Philadelphia.
“Just competition at its highest. I love going against the best. It’s not too often you get to do that in the regular season, especially on a holiday like Christmas,” said Irving, who also pulled down 10 rebounds. “I got to open presents with my family this morning then come into work. It was great.”
It came very close to not being so great for Boston, which needed Irving’s fadeaway jumper from 13-feet out to tie it at 108 with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, forcing the OT.
The Sixers, much improved from the team that lost in Boston 105-87 in the season-opener, scored the first five points of OT, but yet again could not stop Irving when they needed to.
“There aren’t many in his weight class,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “Inevitably, you’ve got to stop him.”
Irving hit a 3-pointer with 2:01 left to put Boston up 115-114, then struck again from 30-feet with 1:29 remaining in OT and the Celtics held on to improve to 2-0 against Philadelphia this season.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris scored 23 apiece for Boston and Terry Rozier had 10 points.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 34 points, making 12 of 12 free throws, and pulled down 16 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored 24, JJ Redick had 17 points and Ben Simmons added 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Sixers.
Bucks 109, Knicks 95
In New York, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds in his Christmas debut, and Milwaukee celebrated its return to the holiday schedule by beating the Knicks.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Bucks, who played on Christmas for the first time since 1977. Milwaukee was selected for the showcase lineup largely because of Antetokounmpo, but the timing also was perfect to show an emerging team, which improved the NBA’s second-best record to 23-10.
Malcolm Brogdon finished with 17 points for the Bucks, who bounced back from a loss to Miami on Saturday to win for the fifth time in six games.
Rookie Kevin Knox scored 21 points for the Knicks, who have lost six straight Christmas Day games and fell to 22-31 in their NBA-record 53 appearances on the holiday.
Jazz 117, Blazers 96
In Salt Lake City, Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks while Donovan Mitchell added 19 points for the Jazz in a win over Portland.
Joe Ingles chipped in with 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists for Utah (17-18), which won for the fifth time in its last six home games while shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Rockets 113, Thunder 109
In Houston, James Harden scored 41 points and the Rockets beat Oklahoma City for their seventh win in the last eight games.
Paul George had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, and Westbrook added 21 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.