Warriors down Cavaliers; Thunder sink Rockets

AFP
In a Christmas rematch of the NBA Finals that marked their third consecutive meeting on the holiday, the hosts Warriors won for the 12th time in 13 games to reach 27-7.
AFP
Reuters

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant celebrates in front of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the fourth quarter of their NBA match at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on December 25, 2017. The Warriors won 99-92.

Kevin Durant scored 25 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and both made crucial plays in the final seconds on Monday, lifting the National Basketball Association champions Golden State Warriors over Cleveland 99-92.

In a Christmas rematch of the NBA Finals that marked their third consecutive meeting on the holiday, the hosts Warriors won for the 12th time in 13 games to reach 27-7 while the Cavaliers fell to 24-10.

Golden State grabbed a 90-81 edge, the Warriors' biggest of the night, before the Cavaliers answered with an 11-2 run, pulling level at 92-92 on a LeBron James layup with two minutes remaining at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Thompson sank a 3-pointer to put Golden State ahead to stay and tough defensive pressure by Durant forced James to lose the ball out of bounds.

"He wants to guard him," coach Steve Kerr said of Durant's desire to defend James. "It just so happens that KD is the right matchup for us and he wants the job."

The Cavaliers got the ball back after the Warriors missed two 3-point shots. James drove to the basket and appeared to be fouled, but no whistle was blown and the ball was ruled to have gone out of bounds off James.

"He fouled me twice," James said. "But whatever. What are you going to do about it?"

Durant said his moves were clean.

"He's too big," Durant said. "He's too big for that. He's too big. That ain't no foul."

The Cavaliers were forced to foul to stop the clock and Thompson sank four late free throws to seal the triumph.

"Klay was great down the stretch and we were able to pull this game out," said Warriors forward Draymond Green.

"Kevin was great. He made a big play on LeBron. He was able to put his heart out there and make the big play and get us the ball."

Green contributed 12 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his first triple double of the season.

Cleveland's Kevin Love had game highs of 31 points and 18 rebounds while James added 20 points but made a game-high 7 turnovers.

The Warriors were without Stephen Curry, who has missed three weeks with an ankle injury and could miss another week, while the Cavaliers were without Isaiah Thomas, who has been sidelined since being obtained in a trade with Boston involving Kyrie Irving.

Reuters

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives to the basket between Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (left) and guard Briante Weber during the fourth quarter of their NBA match at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on December 25, 2017.

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and passed off 11 assists to spark the host Thunder over Houston 112-107.

Paul George added 24 points and Carmelo Anthony contributed 20 as Oklahoma City surged ahead in the final minutes for the victory.

James Harden had 29 points and 14 assists to lead the Rockets, who fell to 25-7 and a game behind Golden State for the NBA's best record.

In other Christmas matchups, it was: Wizards 111, Celtics 103; Timberwolves 121, Lakers 104; and 76ers 105, Knicks 98.


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