NBA Christmas 2020 tracker: Clippers lose Kawhi Leonard, cap day of blowouts with win over Nuggets

Yahoo Sports Staff
·8 min read

Welcome to the Yahoo Sports 2020 NBA Christmas Day tracker. In this post, we’ll break down all the scores, highlights and hullabaloo from the league’s five-game slate throughout the holiday. Merry basketballing!

[Rohrbach: How to watch the NBA on Christmas]

Christmas Day scores, schedule

All times Eastern

Miami Heat 111, New Orleans Pelicans 98

Milwaukee Bucks 138, Golden State Warriors 99

Brooklyn Nets 123, Boston Celtics 95

Los Angeles Lakers 138, Dallas Mavericks 115

Los Angeles Clippers 121, Denver Nuggets 108

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is helped off the court after suffering an injury during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Kawhi Leonard walked off the floor after taking an elbow to his mouth. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Los Angeles Clippers capped a holiday filled with blowouts with the fifth double-digit win of the day in a 121-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

They lost Kawhi Leonard to a frightening injury late in the game.

Leonard was left bloodied and laying on the court after teammate Serge Ibaka inadvertently elbowed him in the teeth amid a fight for a loose ball late in the fourth quarter. He walked off the court and did not return to the game.

(Warning: The footage below contains blood)

Head coach Tyronn Lue was optimistic after the game that Leonard wasn’t seriously injured as the Clippers medical staff continued to evaluate their superstar.

“He got up and walked off the floor, so he's gonna be good,” Lue told reporters.

The Clippers later announced that Leonard needed eight stitches to close a mouth laceration.

Before his injury, Leonard was leading the Clippers effort alongside Paul George. He finished with 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals while hitting 8 of 14 shots from the field. Paul George added 23 points and nine assists while hitting 5 of 9 3-point attempts.

Nikola Jokic led the Denver effort with 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Jamal Murray added 23 points and five rebounds while hitting 9-of-20 shots from the field.

With the win, the Clippers improved to 2-0 after an opening night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The loss drops the Nuggets to 0-2 after an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Lakers bounce back from opening night in win vs. Mavs

The Los Angeles Lakers appeared to fall victim to a ring-ceremony hangover on opening night in a listless loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

There was no letdown on Friday.

Sporting their throwback baby blues, the defending champs took on the Western Conference hopeful Dallas Mavericks in a primetime Christmas matchup. They looked very much like a team intent on hanging another banner in a 138-115 win.

The Lakers dominated the boards with a 53-27 rebounding advantage that they translated into a 35-0 edge in second-chance points. Dallas, playing without injured center Kristaps Porzingis, mustered just three offensive rebounds.

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) goes up for a layup against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) goes up for a layup against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Anthony Davis led all scorers with 28 points while adding eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. LeBron James tallied 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant dominate Celtics in blowout win

The Brooklyn Nets look like championship favorites, at least through their first two games.

Kevin Durant is already playing to pre-injury form, and Nets teammate Kyrie Irving might be playing even better. The two superstars combined for 66 points in Brooklyn’s 123-95 victory against the Boston Celtics.

Irving scored 37 points and added eight assists in his first game against his former team in TD Garden, albeit with no fans in attendance. It was his three-pointer and transition layup sandwiched around a Durant dunk that pushed Brooklyn’s lead to double digits late in the third quarter. Durant added 29 points.

Irving and Durant needed little help to rout a Boston team that had difficulty creating offense outside of young stars Jaylen Brown (27 points) and Jayson Tatum (20 points). Tatum’s 12 second-quarter points actually staked the Celtics to a 54-51 halftime lead, but they fell apart in a disastrous second-half effort. In the third quarter alone, Irving and Durant outscored the Celtics, 25-23, on remarkable 10-for-13 shooting.

Even when Irving and Durant did both sit on the bench, early Sixth Man of the Year candidate Caris LeVert opened the fourth quarter with a pair of jumpers and two assists to push the advantage to 16, forcing a Celtics timeout. Irving and Durant returned to stretch the lead to as many as 28 points before garbage time.

Two games into the Irving-Durant experiment under first-rime head coach Steve Nash, Brooklyn appears to have already found a clear identity. The two perennial All-Stars are such explosive scorers that even modest defensive effort should keep the Nets atop the Eastern Conference, and they have put forth more than that.

Jarrett Allen’s 11 rebounds and four blocks anchored a solid defensive outing for the Nets, who held Boston to 38% shooting from the field and 30% from deep. Beyond Tatum and Brown, the rest of the Celtics — led in scoring by Marcus Smart’s 13 points on 12 shots — converted just 17 of their 51 shot attempts (33%).

After defeating the Golden State Warriors by 26 points on opening night, the Nets became the first team since the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers to open the season with back-to-back 20-point blowouts. Those Lakers won the title. This Brooklyn team sure looks like it could follow suit, so long as its stars stay healthy.

Bucks blow out revamped Warriors

The Bucks celebrated Christmas with a 39-point yuletide thrashing of the Warriors, led by Khris Middleton with 31 points and five assists.

From the final minutes of the first quarter, Milwaukee led by at least five points for the rest of the game, and was up by 24 at the start of the fourth quarter. It wasn’t long after that the Bucks sat their starters.

Alongside Middleton’s big afternoon were double-doubles from Giannis Antetokounmpo (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Bobby Portis (10 points, 12 rebounds). The Bucks were simply humming on all cylinders, or maybe all but one considering they didn’t even need Antetokounmpo to break 20 points.

They even had Thanasis Antetokounmpo doing this:

As for the Warriors, well, things could be better.

The Warriors dropping the first two games of the season is somewhat understandable given that they opened with one of the league’s hardest one-two punches between the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets, but showing even a bit of life in either game would have been a lot more encouraging that what we actually saw out of Golden State.

No stat encapsulated the Warriors’ struggles more than their 10-for-45 line from 3-point range. Stephen Curry had a rough night with 2-of-10 shooting from deep, and the rest of the team wasn’t much better. With Klay Thompson still gone, this team doesn’t seem to have many paths to victory if Curry isn’t playing like it’s 2016 again.

The lone bright spot might have been rookie James Wiseman, who posted 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Warriors’ schedule gets a lot easier from here, starting with a game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, but it’s clear this team has a lot of figuring out to do if it wants to bounce back from the worst record in the NBA.

Heat hold off Pelicans as Duncan Robinson goes off

The reigning Eastern Conference champions opened the NBA’s Christmas slate with an impressive win over the Pelicans.

Duncan Robinson made six 3-pointers in a dominant first half for the Heat, finishing with 23 points and an NBA Christmas record-tying seven 3-pointers.

The Pelicans rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to as little as six points in the fourth quarter, but big shots from Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley down the stretch kept New Orleans out of striking distance. Six different Heat players finished in double figures, including rookie Precious Achiuwa, who also impressed on defense against a strong New Orleans frontcourt.

Zion Williamson finished with 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting and 14 rebounds to lead all scorers, and Brandon Ingram wasn’t far behind with 28 points.

Jimmy Butler exits with ankle stiffness

Even with the win, it wasn’t all good for the Heat.

Jimmy Butler did not return after halftime, and it was later announced he was out for the rest of the game due to right ankle stiffness. Butler had originally been questionable for the game with a sprain in the same ankle.

Butler finished with four points, six rebounds and five assists in 16 minutes. We’ll see if he has to miss any more time, starting with the Heat’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

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