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Rundown v12.26.19 – Merry Furkan Korkmaz, Lakers Lose to Clips Again, and Houston Gifts the Warriors

The Celtics topped the Raptors, Houston crashed and burned, the Clippes beat the Lakers for the second time this season, the Pelicans soar in the Rockies, and Furkan Korkmaz helps the Sixers set a Christmas Day record on three pointers as the Sixers down the Bucks.

For the sake of trying to keep it clean, Merry Furkan Korkmaz!!!

With a slate of five games, other than the Boston Celtics, the teams that you would have thought would notch wins were the ones gifting them yesterday on Christmas Day.

Let’s unwrap these gifts and see what everyone got …

Los Angeles Clippers  111
Los Angeles Lakers  106

If you just look at the stats, you’re left wondering how the Los Angeles Lakers ended up losing to their cross-arena stepbrothers for the second time this season – on Opening Night and on Christmas evening. After all, the Lakers had a comfortable 63-51 lead going into the locker rooms at halftime. And their top three scorers combined for 72 points, 19 rebounds, 13 assists, five steals and three blocks. But Kawhi Leonard took control, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers to a 60-43 second half, and another win against big brother. The Lakers have now lost four straight – go back in my earlier columns in December; did I not predict this?

L.A. CLIPPERS (23-10)L.A. LAKERS (24-7)
Kawhi Leonard
35 points – 12 rebounds – five assists – one steal
Kyle Kuzma
25 points – four rebounds – one steal
Montrezl Harrell
18 points – six rebounds – one block
Anthony Davis
24 points – six rebounds – three assists – two steals – two blocks
Paul George
17 points – five rebounds – three assists – three blocks
LeBron James
23 points – nine rebounds – 10 assists – two steals – one block

NEXT GAMES
Jazz at Clippers – Saturday
Lakers at Blazers – Saturday

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Milwaukee Bucks  109
Philadelphia 76ers  121

Philadelphia’s Furkan Korkmaz helped the 76ers set a Christmas Day record in three pointers (21) by shooting 80 percent from downtown, going four of five to help the Sixers defeat Milwaukee, 121-109.

The Philadelphia 76ers kicked the holy Furkan Korkmaz out of the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks yesterday afternoon, as every time they tried to scratch and claw their way back from a 21- to near-30 point deficit, the 6’7” Turkish sharp shooter would push them back into submission. Korkmaz may have only scored 16, but was 80 percent from downtown and key in a defense-by-offense run in the critical middle quarters. Philadelphia opened with a 38-30 barrage in the first quarter and continued to smother Milwaukee, 100-73, over the first three quarters. Milwaukee won the fourth, but the game was already over by then as Philadelphia played its best and most consistent game of this season so far.

MILWAUKEE (27-5)PHILADELPHIA (23-10)
Khris Middleton
31 points – eight rebounds – four assists – one steal
Joel Embiid
31 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – two blocks
Giannis Antetokuonmpo
18 points – 14 rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
#VFL Tobias Harris
22 points – four rebounds – two assists – one block
George Hill
15 points – one rebound – two assists – one block
#VFL Josh Richardson
18 points – five rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Bucks at Hawks – Friday
Sixers at Orlando – Friday

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New Orleans Pelicans  112
Denver Nuggets  100

The New Orleans didn’t seem to be bothered by going from below sea level to a mile above last night in Denver. In fact, they seemed to gather momentum from a close three point lead heading into the locker rooms at the half. Brandon Ingram hit a career high seven three pointers in the thin air at the Pepsi Center, the Pelicans had nine steals, outrebounded the Nuggets by 12, and brought the Nuggets’ seven game win streak to a crashing halt. It was the second time that New Orleans has defeated the Nuggets this season – seven an 23 against the rest of the league, but 2-0 versus Denver.

PELICANS (9-23)NUGGETS (21-9)
Brandon Ingram
31 points – seven rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
Nikola Jokic
23 points – 10 rebounds – four assists – two steals
Jrue Holiday
20 points – four rebounds – eight assists – six steals
Jerami Grant
17 points – two rebounds – one assist
Josh Hart
16 points – nine rebounds
Gary Harris
15 points – three rebounds – one assist – four steals

NEXT GAMES
Pacers at Pelicans – Saturday
Grizzlies at Nuggets – Saturday

********************

Boston Celtics  118
Toronto Raptors  102

The Boston Celtics are undefeated at 8-0 when shooting better than 50 percent.Yesterday afternoon, they shot 46 of 92. 50 percent. They won, with double digit scoring from six Celtics versus basically four that got in the game from the Toronto Raptors. Other than their top three, the Raptors only had Serge Ibaka (12-8-1-1) get going, while Boston was fueled by all scorers hitting double digits (Daniel Thies – 13, Jayson Tatum – 11), and Enes Kanter (12-11-1) off the bench. These two teams meet again in Beantown on Saturday.

BOSTON (21-7)TORONTO (21-10)
Jaylen Brown
30 points – six rebounds – four assists
Fred VanVleet
27 points – four rebounds – six assists – four steals
Kemba Walker
22 points – one rebound – four assists
Chris Boucher
24 points – six rebounds – two blocks
Gordon Hayward
14 points – five rebounds – six assists – two steals – one block
Kyle Lowry
14 points – four rebounds – eight assists – two steals – one block

NEXT GAMES
Cavaliers at Celtics – Friday
Raptors at Celtics – Saturday

********************

Houston Rockets  104
Golden State Warriors  116

As I was trying to settle in last night, I heard “Houston, we have a problem” and kept hearing about how cold and lethargic things were getting. I know I ate a lot and may have been in a food coma at intermittent points, but I kept confusing my son’s TV (watching ‘Apollo 13’) and mine, watching the Rockets and Warriors. Regardless, the lines and situation fit the game narrative, as the Houston Rockets failed to score 36 points in the entire second half, after blistering the nets for 68 points in the first half. Golden State won the game by remaining consistent (28, 36, 28, 24 in each quarter) and outscoring Houston, 52-36, in the second half to take the win, their eighth of the season.  

HOUSTON (21-10)GOLDEN STATE (8-24)
Russell Westbrook
30 points – 12 rebounds – five assists
Damion Lee
22 points – 15 rebounds – four assists – three steals
James Harden
24 points – six rebounds – 11 assists – three steals
Draymond Green
20 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – one block
Danuel House, Jr.
18 points – five rebounds – one steal – one block
D’Angelo Russell
20 points – three rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Suns at Warriors – Friday
Nets at Rockets – Saturday

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THURSDAY’S LINEUP
Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit
New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets – 7:30 p.m. EST – TNT
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest
Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings – 10 p.m. EST – NBC Sports California
Portland Trailblazers at Utah Jazz – 10:30 p.m. EST – TNT

********************

WESTERN CONFERENCEEASTERN CONFERENCE
Los Angeles Lakers   (24-7) .774Milwaukee Bucks   (27-5) .844
Denver Nuggets   (21-9) .700Boston Celtics   (21-7) .750
Los Angeles Clippers   (23-10) .697Miami Heat   (22-8) .733
Houston Rockets   (21-10) .667Philadelphia 76ers   (23-10) .697
Dallas Mavericks   (19-10) .655Indiana Pacers   (21-10) .677
Utah Jazz   (18-12) .600Toronto Raptors   (21-10) .677
Oklahoma City Thunder   (15-14) .517Brooklyn Nets   (16-13) .552
Portland Trailblazers   (14-17) .452Orlando Magic   (13-17) .433

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Tracy Graven is a Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, and done NBA radio, for the last two decades for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, and HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show and NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 20 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City.
A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia 

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