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Curry punishes Suns; short-handed Nets beat Lakers

LeBron James (AFP)
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors reacts after scoring against the Phoenix Suns. (AFP)

New York 101, Atlanta 87

Milwaukee 117, Boston113

Golden State 116, Phoenix 107

Brooklyn 122, LA Lakers 115

Utah 120, Dallas 116

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Stephen Curry scored 33 points to power Golden State to a 116-107 victory over Phoenix that moved the Warriors ahead of the Suns for best record in the NBA on Christmas Day.

The surge of Covid cases around the league robbed the festive five-game slate of some star power on Saturday, but there was no lack of drama.

“The fact that it came on Christmas, we’re on the road, what a great Christmas gift for our guys,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. 

“They obviously gave it to themselves, but it’s fun playing on Christmas, there’s a special vibe and obviously this game with the two teams with the best record in the league had a special feel to it.”

Otto Porter Jr. scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors pulled away to win a back-and-forth battle that featured 12 lead changes.

The Warriors arrived in Phoenix for the marquee clash with three of their top four scorers — Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole — sidelined by Covid concerns.

Curry mostly filled the void and for the first time in nine Christmas games scored more than 20 points ‒ despite connecting on just 10 of 27 shots from the field, including five of 16 from three-point range.

– Giannis makes big return –

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points in his return from Covid protocols, powering the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-113 comeback win over the coronavirus-depleted Boston Celtics.

There would be no miracle comeback for the Los Angeles Lakers, however, as their bid to rally against a Brooklyn Nets team returning from a week-long Covid hiatus came up short.

The Nets, who had a league-high 13 players sidelined by Covid last week and had three games postponed, led by 23 points in the fourth quarter but saw the Lakers tie it up with 45 seconds remaining, before scoring the final seven points in a 122-115 victory in Los Angeles.

James Harden, who missed three games because of Covid, posted a triple-double of 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Patty Mills added 34 points for the Nets, whose Covid absentees included superstar Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Nic Claxton dunked over Lakers star LeBron James to break a tie with 40.7sec remaining and the Lakers, despite 39 points from James, suffered a fifth straight defeat.

In Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo, who had missed five games, scored 29 points in the second half as the Bucks rallied to deny a gutsy Celtics squad.

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Written by Tempo Desk

Tempo 25 December 2021, Saturday issue

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