Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Curry, Warriors beat Suns 116-107 to regain top spot in NBA | Ap

PHOENIX – The Golden State Warriors kept it tight despite being outnumbered and set the stage for a player who could take over the route.

One did – and it wasn’t Stephen Curry. Otto Porter Jr. was honored in the late game.

Curry had 33 points, Porter scored seven of his 19 during an important late stretch and the Warriors retook the top spot in the NBA from Phoenix, beating the Suns by 116-107 on Saturday.

“I designed every piece, I completely organized every aspect,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr sarcastically. “Otto was great. He added so much to our team with his shooting from this position, his rebound and his defense. “

Golden State arrived outnumbered in the desert, missing three of its top four health and safety protocol scorers: Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole.

Curry carried most of the load and overcame a mediocre shooting night to crack 20 points for the first time in nine Christmas games. He finished 10 for 27, including 5 for 16 of 3 to help the Warriors end Phoenix’s 15-game home winning streak.

Porter hit a step-back 3 and a pair of jumpers in a span of 1:02.

“Coach designed a couple of pieces that set me free,” Porter said. “Did a good job of finding me, was able to find a rhythm.”

The suns had their chances and kept it in a rough homely atmosphere until the final minutes. They failed to complete the game and failed 3:01 in the final to lose for the third time in 28 games.

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists to make up some of the deficit in leading scorer Devin Booker, which was kept at 13 points in the 5-of-19 shoot-out. Deandre Ayton added 18 points and Mikal Bridges added 17.

“You created these breaks. They played harder than us, ”said Suns coach Monty Williams. “I seldom say that about our team. They worked us out more consistently for 50-50 balls, timely offensive rebounds and diving out of bounds to save balls. “

The two teams with the best records in the NBA only played in the third Christmas game, in which both teams had a win rate of at least 0.800.

Playing at Christmas is nothing new to the Warriors. This was their ninth game in a row on Christmas Day and the eleventh in 12 seasons. The Suns, once regulars on the Christmas program, were in their first since 2009.

Both teams organized an offensive show after the gift in the Footprint Center, which sent Oohs and Aahs through the Footprint Center with every dunk and 3 pointers.

Curry had 11 points in the first quarter and Payton a massive rebound slam as the Warriors built an early 10 point lead. The Suns turned at full speed in the second quarter, ran a 15-3 run and took the lead with 62:58 at halftime on Paul’s last 3-pointer.

The teams continued to swap 3s and baskets in transition but couldn’t part until Golden State climbed 107-99 in the short term.

The Suns moved up within two, but Porter hit consecutive jumpers and a long 3 to extend Golden State’s lead to nine.

“They wanted it more and played that way,” said Booker. “We just have to accept this defeat and move on to our next game.”

The four players weren’t the only ones Golden State had on health and safety logs. The Warriors also had four trainers, forcing Kerr and his staff to change responsibilities.

“It was really bizarre missing all these guys,” said Kerr. “The group did a really good job. These are strange times for many reasons, but I’ve never seen four coaches outside at the same time. “

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo said he was trying to have low expectations of himself when he returned to action on Saturday for the first time since entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 12.

Antetokounmpo presented exactly the numbers one would expect of him to national television audiences at Christmas this Christmas – 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists – and the Milwaukee Bucks rallied in the closing minutes for a 117-113 win over the Boston Celtics.

“It feels good,” said Antetokounmpo. “I was excited to be back, excited to be around my teammates and the fans again, and excited to play the game.”

Antetokounmpo got off to a slow start, scoring seven points before halftime, with Milwaukee trailing a COVID-depleted Celtics team 35:22. He shook off any remaining rust with 17 points in the third, then added 12 more after Boston took a 13-point lead with five minutes remaining.

“He’s the type of guy who likes the repetitions, the touch and the feel he gets,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “It took a half to rip the cobwebs off but he had a great second half and I’m really impressed with him.”

Boston only had eight players to play after putting Dennis Schroder on the logs the previous Saturday, but took over most of the game behind Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Jayson Tatum also scored 25 for Boston, which led by up to 19.

Milwaukee reduced the deficit to one when Middleton knocked down a 3 3:39 in the third deficit. But the Celtics responded five in a row, opening the fourth with an 8-0 run, including six from Parker, who converted a three-point game to 102-90 with 10:15.

Portis’ put-back with 8 minutes to go marked the start of the Bucks attack. They leveled the game at 111 when Antetokounmpo scored a goal and drew a foul 1:26 to go. He missed the free throw and Brown made a pair on the other end to put Boston back into the lead.

But Wes Matthews buried a 3 for a 114-113 lead with 30.3 seconds to go, and the Bucks held.

“I think we can only go up from here,” said Celtics security guard Payton Richard. “We learn how to finish games. So for us we have to take it as a good thing. We’re growing, so at some point we’ll get good at this and then we can take care of it. “

NEW YORK (AP) – Kemba Walker couldn’t have imagined this Christmas.

Less than two weeks ago, his coach wouldn’t even give his name.

His home fans sang it on Saturday.

Walker became the seventh NBA player to triple-double for Christmas, and the New York Knicks defeated the exhausted Atlanta Hawks 101-87 for their first Holiday win in a decade.

“It was amazing,” said Walker. “These are moments that you dream of. It’s hard to put into words, to be honest. “

Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks in a matchup of teams that faced each other in the first round of last season’s playoffs. But the Hawks lacked Trae Young from nine players on the NBA’s health and safety logs, so it wasn’t a big rematch of Atlanta’s five-game win.

Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot guard raced the floor, desperately trying to get his 10th rebound for much of the second half, and finally got it in the fourth quarter when Mitchell Robinson’s block came to him.

It was the first Christmas triple-double since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017 and has continued Walker’s strong streak since moving back to the starting XI of nine games when the Knicks were understaffed.

He said he couldn’t have predicted things would change so quickly.

“That’s not how we imagined it,” he says. “I’m not complaining either.”

Fans in the sold out crowd shouted “Kemba Walker! Kemba Walker! ” for the native New Yorker, who scored 44 points in a loss to Washington on Thursday.

“As a team-mate, as a brother, I’m happy for him that he can come out and be who he is,” said Randle. “I’m sure when he signed to come here he was picturing this, playing the kind of basketball he is playing right now.”

Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes each scored 15 points for the Knicks, who snapped a six-game Christmas slide. They are 23-31 in their 54 league games but haven’t won a single one since 2011.

John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 points for the Hawks, who played at Christmas for the first time since 1989.

Young played New York in his first playoff series last spring, ignoring mundane ridicule from Knicks fans and getting the last word as he bowed to them just before the end of Atlanta’s decisive win in Game 5.

But he couldn’t clear the logs in time for a coveted place on the calendar and caught up with the Hawks. Coach Nate McMillan said some players have even asked to be removed from the game, which he believes will never happen.

“It wasn’t a shortage of energy,” said McMillan. “I think our boys are tired. You logged many minutes. “

The Knicks made their first seven shots, running 7:48 in the first quarter to a 19-3 lead over Randle’s 3-pointer.

They blew it up in the third quarter, and consecutive 3-pointers from Grimes and Taj Gibson to open the fourth gave New York the biggest lead at 87-66. From then on, the only drama was whether Walker would get another rebound.

The Hawks’ injury report captured three tweets from the team’s official account, and alongside Young featured key players like Kevin Huerter, Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari. Clint Capela returned from the logs with six points and nine rebounds.

The Knicks are now getting healthier. RJ Barrett returned to the starting XI and Grimes made his first appearance since setting a Knicks rookie record with seven 3-pointers and 27 points against Milwaukee on December 12th. He was then put on the logs and missed the last five games.

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