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.
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CELTICS 121, 76ERS 114, OT
BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving hit back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime for six of his 40 points and the Celtics rallied to a win over the 76ers.
Irving, who forced the OT on a jump shot with 20 seconds left in the fourth, also pulled down 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who trailed 113-108 with 3:33 left in the extra period before rallying behind Irving down the stretch.
Ben Simmons’ two free throws with 2:15 left to put the Sixers up 114-112, but Philadelphia didn’t score again.
Irving’s 3-pointer with 3:01 left gave Boston its first lead of overtime at 115-114, then after a miss by Philadelphia, Irving hit another 3-pointer with 1:28 left and Boston fans leaped to their feet and cheered louder than they had all night.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris scored 23 apiece for Boston and Terry Rozier had 10 points.
ROCKETS 113, THUNDER 109
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 41 points and the Rockets beat the Thunder for their seventh win in the last eight games.
Harden has scored 30 points or more in a career-high seven games in a row, marking the first time a player has done that since Russell Westbrook had eight consecutive 30-point games in November 2016.
A 3-pointer by Paul George with less than two minutes left got Oklahoma City within 4 before Harden missed a 3. Westbrook missed a shot for the Thunder, but George stole the ball from Harden and was fouled by him.
George made both free throws to get the Thunder within 2 with 43.6 seconds left. Harden then drove past George and into the lane for a layup to make it 112-108 with 20.4 seconds left.
Westbrook made 1 of 2 free throws to cut it to 3 with 15 seconds left, and Austin Rivers made a free throw with 7.4 seconds left to secure the win.
George had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, and Westbrook added 21 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.
BUCKS 109, KNICKS 95
NEW YORK (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds in his Christmas debut, and the Bucks celebrated their 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. They were selected for the showcase slate of games 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.
New York has lost five in a row and 10 of 11 since rallying to stun the Bucks 136-134 in overtime on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden.