As always, the NBA blessed its fans with a marquee slate of matchups on Christmas Day.
New York topped Milwaukee, Denver held off Golden State, Boston beat the Lakers, Miami had too much for Philadelphia and Dallas capped things off with a victory over Phoenix.
Let’s break down the results and storylines from Monday’s holiday hoops extravaganza.
The 2024 Christmas schedule tipped off with the New York Knicks hosting the Milwaukee Bucks inside Madison Square Garden.
Any New Yorker who spent a few hours of Christmas watching basketball certainly wasn’t disappointed, as the Knicks took down the Bucks 129-122.
Jalen Brunson scored 38 points and Immanuel Quickley came to the rescue in unexpected fashion.
Quickley poured in 20 points off the bench. Julius Randle added 24 points and RJ Barrett chipped in 21.
It was a big win for New York, which needed the victory to stay ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the all-important top six of the Eastern Conference standings.
The result also gave the Knicks a measure of revenge, having lost to the Bucks (also at home) just two days earlier.
Milwaukee, which got 32 points from both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, is now 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics atop the East standings.
A 28-point performance from Jamal Murray saw the West's second-placed team, the Denver Nuggets, beat the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors fell to 15-15 and occupy the final play-in spot out West, while the Nuggets are 22-10.
Murray scored his points on 18 shots. Andrew Wiggins came off the bench and led the Warriors with 22 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field.
The game's biggest stars, Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Stephen Curry from the Warriors, shot 25 percent and 33 percent from the field respectively.
The Warriors' starters combined for 59 points, while the Nuggets' starters combined for 105. That made the difference in this contest.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue to just go through the motions during the dog days of the regular season, unlike their dominance of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament.
That’s not to say they didn’t mentally get up for a Christmas Day showdown with the Boston Celtics, but they were not particularly competitive.
Los Angeles fell behind 12-0 right away, never led by more than two points and ultimately succumbed 126-115 in front of its home crowd.
Anthony Davis’ 40 points were nowhere near enough, in part because LeBron James scored only 16 on a 5-for-14 effort from the field.
All five Boston starters delivered at least 18 points, including Kristaps Porzingis with 28.
Since winning the In-Season Tournament, the Lakers are 2-6. They are 16-15 overall, just barely clinging to a play-in round spot in the Western Conference.
As for the Celtics, they are now a half-game clear of the Minnesota Timberwolves for sole possession of the league’s best record at 23-6.
Boston is 3-0 in its last three, 8-1 in its last nine and 11-2 in its last 13. The Celtics are +350 favorites to win the NBA title.
Bam Adebayo had one of his do-it-all performances against the Philadelphia 76ers, who were without reigning MVP center Joel Embiid. Adebayo dropped 26 points with 15 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.
Rookie Heat wing Jaime Jaquez Jr. contributed 31 points and 10 rebounds, further proving his case as the top first-year player behind sensational seven-footers Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren.
The Sixers struggled without their best player, and Tyrese Maxey had one of his worst games of the season with 12 points on 4-for-20 shooting. Kelly Oubre dropped 25 for Philly in his first game back from injury, Mo Bamba scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting, and Tobias Harris chipped in 27 points, seven boards, and six assists.
The performances from Oubre, Bamba, and Harris were not enough as the Sixers, who were outrebounded by 20, lost in Miami 119-113.
Luka Doncic became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points on Christmas Day as the visiting Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns 128-114.
Doncic went 15-for-25 from the floor, 8-for-16 from three-point range and 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.
The smooth Slovenian really did at all as he recorded 15 assists, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks. He is +350 to finish the season as the NBA’s scoring leader.
Whereas Dallas is a solid 18-12, Phoenix is a team in turmoil – wallowing outside the Western Conference playoff spots at 14-15.
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal have played only one full game together this entire season. Durant (16) and Booker (20) combined for 36 points in the Christmas loss.
Grayson Allen was Phoenix’s leading scorer with 32 points on eight successful long-distance attempts.