LOS ANGELES: Anthony Davis scored 28 points while LeBron James added 22 as the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers routed Dallas 138-115 in Friday’s feature game of a record-setting Christmas slate. James had a game-high 10 assists and seven rebounds in 31 minutes, while Davis contributed eight rebounds, five assists and two steals and reserve Montrezl Harrell had 22 points for the Lakers, who played on the holiday for a 22nd consecutive year. “We have a lot of offensive firepower,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
James, who turns 36 on Wednesday, rose to second on the NBA’s all-time Christmas points list with 383, passing Oscar Robertson by six to pull within 12 of matching the late Kobe Bryant’s career record. It was the 10th Christmas victory in 15 holiday appearances by James, who equaled former Miami teammate Dwyane Wade for the most career Christmas NBA wins. Vogel wants to ease the workload on James after the shortest off-season break in NBA history but James is confident he can handle whatever comes.
“I train my body for whatever. I’m not your typical guy in his 18th season,” James said. “If you stay ready you never have to get ready.” Slovakian star guard Luka Doncic scored 27 points for Dallas, but the Mavericks were outscored in every quarter and outrebounded 53-27. “We got a really good team,” Davis said. Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Miami’s Duncan Robinson each matched an NBA Christmas record with seven 3-pointers, the Heat stretching their holiday win streak to eight games.
Irving scored 37 points, hitting 7-of-10 3-point attempts in his return to Boston, as the Nets ripped his former Celtics teammates 123-95. “I’m glad we could put on a performance for everybody,” Irving said. “We’re definitely going to continue to progress every day.” Robinson finished with 23 points, hitting 7-of-13 from beyond the arc, in leading 2020 NBA runner-up Miami over visiting New Orleans 111-98.
“Getting more and more comfortable every day,” Robinson said. “Last year was a great learning experience. We’re just trying to build on it.” Also rolling to a holiday triumph were the Milwaukee Bucks, who had a game-high 31 points from Khris Middleton to beat Golden State 138-99 – the second-most lopsided blowout in NBA Christmas history – thanks to a 72-43 Bucks edge in the second half.
“We just wanted to put on a show,” Middleton said. At Boston, Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant scored 16 of his 29 in the third quarter and the Nets seized an 86-77 edge before pulling away in the fourth quarter. The Nets became the first club since the 2008-09 Lakers to win their first two games by 20 or more points. “We can’t exceed our own expectations,” Irving said. “We know this is a long journey ahead.” As for his return to Boston, Irving said, “I went to war with those guys. We’re going to continue to lean on each other as brothers off the floor and compete on it.”
No Butler, no problem
Goran Dragic came off Miami’s bench to score 18 points, and Bam Adebayo added 17 for the Heat, whose NBA-best Christmas record is 11-2 despite Jimmy Butler missing the second half with right ankle stiffness. “When he goes down, it’s up to us to pick it up for him,” Robinson said. “I thought we did a good job of sticking with it and getting a good win today.” Zion Williamson scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Pelicans. At Milwaukee, two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to spark the Bucks, while two-time MVP Stephen Curry had a team-best 19 points.
The Los Angeles Clippers beat host Denver 121-108 despite an injury to Kawhi Leonard midway into the fourth quarter when teammate Serge Ibaka struck him in the face going for a rebound, leaving him bleeding and sprawled on the court. Paul George scored 23 points and passed off nine assists for the Clippers while Leonard had 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. Denver’s Nikola Jokic barely missed being the first player since Magic Johnson in 1982 to open a season with back-to-back triple-doubles, producing 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. – AFP