If any bad blood had boiled over from the 2012-13 season, it certainly manifested itself once again in Oakland in the late-night Christmas matchup between the Clippers and Warriors. Some hard fouls, a skirmish or two and an ejection. All part of the holiday spirit in Golden State's 105-103 victory.
Klay Thompson blocked Chris Paul's game-tying attempt out of bounds with one second remaining, and Jamal Crawford was short on a fadeaway 30-footer as time expired. The Warriors hung on to the lead on the scoreboard, and the Clippers lost more than just the point battle.
Early in the fourth quarter, Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin got tangled up in the lane and tempers flared. It didn't go beyond grabbing and pushing and no punches were thrown, yet Griffin was ejected for his part in the altercation while Bogut was handed a flagrant-1. The decision to toss Griffin caused something of an uproar and certainly had an effect on the game.
It was obviously a competitive game up to that point, even with Griffin in the game. So his ejection was a major factor down the stretch. He finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in just 33 minutes.
Paul led the way for Los Angeles with 26 points and 11 assists, and Jamal Crawford tacked on 19 of his own.
The Warriors, on the other hand, managed to survive a poor shooting night from the 'Splash Brothers.' Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to hit just 15 of their 39 shots, but Steph did manage 11 assists while David Lee went off for 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Those scrappy Lakers probably gave us a better game than we thought we'd get between these two teams as the home squad fought tooth and nail behind Nick Young in the holiday battle. But the champs were just too much down the stretch of a 101-95 win in Los Angeles.
Chris Bosh had a tremendous game. The most unsung member of the Big Three stepped up with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the win, while LeBron James struggled a little more than his usual. The reigning MVP went for just 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, but still posted eight boards and four assists. Dwyane Wade was solid once again, however, putting up 23 points, six boards and seven dimes.
But the Lakers hung in there, mostly because of Swaggy P's performance off the bench, as he caught fire in the second half. Young dropped 17 of his 20 points after the break to help keep L.A. in it, but keeping pace with Miami is much easier said than done.
It was billed as one of the top two matchups of the day, but Houston went into San Antonio and mugged the Spurs for the second time this season, 113-98, as the Rockets have taken hold of the reignited rivalry.
James Harden once again killed the Spurs. He had 28 points on just 16 shots, and his herky-jerky style gave San Antonio — and Kawhi Leonard — fits all night. But he got plenty of help from his starting cohorts, too. Dwight Howard continued his great month of December with a 15-point, 20-rebound performance; Terrence Jones dominated his matchup with the Spurs' frontcourt yet again, going for 21 points and 14 boards; and Chandler Parsons was unconscious for much of the night as well with his 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, including five 3-pointers.
It wasn't so good on the Spurs' end of things. Gregg Popovich called the performance "embarrassing" and Tony Parker was a virtual no-show on Wednesday. The All-NBA point guard scored only six points and collected four assists in 30 minutes, and he was nowhere to be found during significant stretches of this game.
Tim Duncan struggled from the floor with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but he did snag 14 boards, drop five dimes and block six shots.
Oh, and Merry Christmas from Dwight.
Oklahoma City was heavily favored in this one from the start, but things only got worse when the announcement came a couple of hours prior to tip-off that Carmelo Anthony wouldn't play. From there, it was a 123-94 runaway for the Thunder.
Kevin Durant had 29 points in 32 minutes, Serge Ibaka dropped 24 in just 27 minutes, and Russell Westbrook tallied a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in 29 minutes. Poor Beno Udrih.
This was just an all-around dominating performance. OKC hit 53.6 percent of its shots while New York struggled to knock in 42 percent of its attempts. The Knicks went just 6-of-23 from beyond the arc.
This game was never close.
There was certainly a trend during the early games, and that trend was bad basketball.
Chicago handed Brooklyn a lopsided 95-78 loss at home as things are looking bleaker and bleaker for the Nets. Taj Gibson notched 20 points and eight boards off the bench while Jimmy Butler put up 15 points of his own, and the Chicago defense suffocated Jason Kidd's team into 35 percent shooting for the game.
The Bulls won despite hitting just five of their 17 threes.