Festive Sporting Roundup
Sports fans were treated to an abundance of excitement, drama and emotion during an action-packed festive period. We have rounded up the highlights of the past few days.
Porter Helps Depleted Warriors Stun the Suns
Otto Porter Jr. scored seven points in the final 2:09 as the depleted Golden State Warriors beat the Phoenix Suns 116-107 in the showcase game on Christmas Day. Porter ended the game with a season-high 19, while Steph Curry put up 33 points to help his team reclaim top spot in the Western Conference. It left the Dubs 2-1 against the Suns this season, bolstering the sentiment that Golden State is the team to beat in the west. The Warriors were missing Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole due to health and safety protocols, but they still outgunned Phoenix and Chris Paul, who had 21 points and eight assists. It was just the third time in history in which both teams had a winning percentage of at least .800 heading into a Christmas Day showdown, and they delivered an entertaining spectacle.
Harden’s Triple Double Powers Nets to Victory
A short-handed Brooklyn Nets team beat the Lakers 122-115 in the first game at the newly renamed Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. James Harden was the star of the show, recording a triple double with 36 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds to inspire Brooklyn to victory. It was a thrilling game, which saw the Lakers erase a 20-point deficit thanks to the brilliance of LeBron James. Yet Nic Claxton threw a tiebreaking alley-oop over the great man with 40.07 seconds remaining, and the Nets pulled away in the final stages. James scored 39 to eclipse Kobe Bryant as the player with the most Christmas Day points, but it was still not enough to rescue the Lakers. Harden followed up his big performance with 39 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds in a 124-108 win against the Clippers three days later.
Mitchell Stars for the Jazz
Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points in a 120-116 win for the Utah Jazz against the Dallas Mavericks in the Christmas night game. Luka Doncic missed out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which diminished the occasion somewhat, but Mitchell stepped up with a terrific performance to seal the victory against the depleted Mavs.
A Kemba Walker Masterclass
New York native Kemba Walker basked in the crowd’s adulation as the Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-87. It was the team’s first Christmas Day win in a decade. Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. That represented the first Christmas Day triple-double since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017 – a feat later matched by Harden – and made Walker just the seventh player to ever record a triple-double on December 25. Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks.ing
Giannis Antetokounmpo is Back in Business
Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from the health and safety protocols to score 36 points in a 117-113 win for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Boston Celtics. The Greek Freak was playing his first game since December 12, but he showed no signs of rust. Boston was seriously depleted, but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were on fire in the opening stages. The Celtics led by 19 points at one stage, but Milwaukee finally pulled it back to 111-111, and the Bucks held their nerve in the closing seconds after a late 3-pointer from Wesley Matthews.
Rodgers Leads Green Bay to Tense Victory
Aaron Rodgers threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers’ tense 24-22 victory over the Browns on Christmas Day. In the process, the reigning NFL MVP overtook Brett Favre to become the player with the most passing touchdowns in franchise history. His opposite number, Baker Mayfield, struggled on his return from the Covid list, as he was sacked five times and threw four interceptions for the first time in his career. The Packers earned a playoff place following the win, while the 7-8 Browns slumped to the bottom of the AFC North.
Colts Upset the Cardinals
The other Christmas Day game saw the Colts pull off an upset in their game against the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona opened as the 4.5-point favorite, but it was just the 2-point favorite by the time the game approached. Carson Wentz threw for 225 yards and two TDs, while Jonathan Taylor rushed for 108 yards in the win. The Cards are now 10-5 after losing three in a row, while the Colts are now 9-6 after winning eight of their last 10. The Colts are now 9-0 for the season when Taylor rushes for more than 100 yards.
Wild NFL Playoff Race Heats Up
A flurry of exciting NFL games took place on Sunday, causing a dramatic shift in the playoff picture. The Eagles moved up to No. 7 in the NFC after a blowout win against Washington. They are 8-7 for the season, as is the No. 6 seed San Francisco. Minnesota, Atlanta and New Orleans are all 7-8. The Miami Dolphins are up to seventh in the AFC standings after securing a seventh consecutive victory. They beat an injury-ravaged Saints team in the Monday night game, leaving them 8-7. The Ravens, Chargers and Raiders are all 8-7 too, so the battle for a wildcard berth should go down to the wire.
NHL Players Enjoy a Rest
NHL stars enjoyed a rare break over the Christmas period after the league decided to shut down for several days to combat the spread of Omicron. The action is set to resume when the Lightning take on the Canadiens at Amalie Arena.
Premier League Goes Goal Crazy
On the other side of the Atlantic, there were goals galore in the Premier League. Reigning champion Manchester City beat Leicester 6-3, while Arsenal thumped Norwich 5-0. Southampton prevailed in a 3-2 thriller against West Ham, Spurs beat Crystal Palace 3-0, Chelsea picked up a 3-1 win against Aston Villa, and Brighton ended a long winless streak by beating Brentford 2-0.