Heat 93, Magic 83
Cavaliers 144, Raptors 99
76ers 117, Wizards 96
Grizzlies 127, Kings 102
Thunder 117, Pelicans 112
Spurs 144, Pistons 109
Bulls 113, Pacers 105
Nuggets 103, Clippers 100
What went down
On the day after NBA Christmas, we got a mixed bag of a nine-game slate. It was mostly a mixed bag of blowouts, but there were a couple of notable performances in there.
The San Antonio Spurs, for one, won their third straight game via drubbing, dominating the Detroit Pistons by 35 points. The Spurs have won their last three games by an average margin of 29.5 points.
If the Pistons had a rough night, the depleted Toronto Raptors had quite the bender, losing by 45 points to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Washington, it didn’t get much better for the Wizards, who watched Joel Embiid go to town (more on this later) and dropped to the Philadelphia 76ers by 21 points.
It looked like the Los Angeles Clippers were in for the same fate in the final game of the day, but they managed to rally against the Denver Nuggets. The visiting Nuggets shot 52 percent in the first half and sprinted to a 17-point lead in the third quarter.
Behind Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers turned up the defense and made a huge run into the fourth quarter, grabbing a 91-82 lead with nine minutes remaining in the game. Nikola Jokic slowly chipped away at the lead, sparking the Nuggets’ late run with his post play and passing. Denver finished the game on a 21-9 run and picked up the win.
Jokic gathered 26 points, 22 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two blocks. He and LaMelo Ball are the only two players in the league to lead their team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.
The Clippers, on the other hand, sorely missed having a superstar today. Having both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard shelved due to injuries has been an unfortunate turn for what should have been a solid Clipper squad.
Joel Embiid had his way with the Wizards’ frontline, hanging 36 points on 12-for-17 shooting from the field with 13 rebounds, two blocks, and a steal on the road.
🔔 36 PTS, 13 REB 🔔@JoelEmbiid drops his FIFTH 30+ PT game of the month to power the @sixers in their win! pic.twitter.com/KawrsJUp1m— NBA (@NBA) December 27, 2021
Embiid started the season in a bit of a shooting slump. He has been on fire this month as the Sixers try to regain footing at the top of the East.
What he said
When the Chicago Bulls had 10 players out due to health and safety protocols around the second week of this month, Lonzo Ball was one of the lucky few that evaded mandatory quarantine.
Until today when it was announced that it was his turn to miss some games. Luckily, the Bulls have most of their roster back to pick up the slack.
Y’all jinxed me— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) December 26, 2021
Did you see that?
Josh Giddey wasn’t quite “big-time baller” status today, but he did put up a very interesting line. The Australian rookie missed all eight of his shot attempts and scored zero points, but still managed to help the Thunder win over the Pelicans with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
EXTENDING for the alley-oop 🙌— NBA (@NBA) December 27, 2021
Josh Giddey finds Aaron Wiggins at the rim!@okcthunder in front of the Pelicans in the fourth on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/V0kkYEn6W6 pic.twitter.com/W04KzdsBSJ
In Miami, Jimmy Butler returned. The Heat were still shorthanded, especially at center with Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon both out due to injuries. The OG Udonis Haslem had to pick up some quality minutes as backup center. Haslem finished with eight points and six rebounds in the Heat’s wire-to-wire win over the Orlando Magic.
UD gets the bucket off of Jimmy's no-look dime 🙌 @MiamiHEAT lead in Q3 on NBA League Pass ?https://t.co/V0kkYEn6W6 pic.twitter.com/N42Mid2kgk— NBA (@NBA) December 26, 2021