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Christmas night NBA grades: Durant is on the nice list, the Nets get a lump of coal

Dec 26, 2013, 3:26 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Getty Images

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to get that “Christmas Jammies” song out of your head….

source:   Brooklyn Nets not named Deron Williams. If you want to blame everyone in a Brooklyn uniform (ugly, Christmas Day sleeved uniform) for that disaster of a loss, I can’t blame you. They were awful. But I lift some of the blame off Deron Williams — when he tweaked his ankle and left the game in the third quarter it was a five point game, 57-52 Bulls. By the time he got back on the court in the fourth quarter the Nets were down 21. You look at the Bulls and you see a team with the heart to play hard with its stars (Derrick Rose, Luol Deng) out for the night, the Nets lack that. They lack a lot of things, but depth and heart are a big part of it.

source:   Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. Frankly, it was hard to get too excited about the Thunder’s blowout win over the Knicks because it pretty much followed the script we expected once word came down Carmelo Anthony was out. I was hoping for an old school Durant/Anthony shootout but what we got still Durant putting on a show — he was 5-of-5 for 13 points in the first quarter to begin with. Durant was doing it all — step back threes, finishing dunks in transition, basically scoring at will on his way to 29 points. And he got to rest the fourth because he was playing the Knicks.

source:   Los Angeles Lakers. Moral victories suck. And it sucks for Lakers fans that they are going to get a lot of them this year. But after watching the first two games of Christmas Day where teams from New York responded to adversity by just rolling over, the way the Lakers responded was refreshing. Nick Young came in off the bench in full Swaggy P mode in the second half and finished with 20 points, Jodie Meeks added 17. Los Angeles wouldn’t let Miami run away and hide in this one, and that’s a good sign for a team looking for positives after Kobe went down with another injury. And by the way, Mike D’Antoni is doing a pretty good coaching job with this team this season.

source:   James Harden, Houston Rockets. Houston had raced out to a 17-point lead but unlike the early games in the day you knew San Antonio wasn’t just going to roll over. The Spurs chipped away and got it down to five points with 8:17 in the fourth quarter — then James Harden happened. He hit his first four shots, scored 11 straight points and had 16 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter. Harden shut down any Spurs comebacks. The Rockets looked like a potential contender in this game and for that two come true two things have to happen: 1) They have to play like this consistently; 2) James Harden needs to be their closer, their go to guy in the fourth. Like he was on Christmas Day.

source:  Officials Bill Kennedy, Gary Zielinski, and Scott Twardoski. I generally have a policy — you can’t blame an official’s bad call for the loss. And the Clippers can’t blame them the referees in this 105-103 loss to the Warriors because both Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford had their chances at the end and just couldn’t make the plays (or in this case of when Klay Thompson blocked CP3, the Warriors made the better ones). And it’s not just the end, the Clippers lost a lead and that’s not on the refs. That said,  the referees seriously hampered the Clippers chances — and robbed the fans wanting to see an entertaining game play out — when they ejected Blake Griffin for two technical fouls in under two minutes. In both cases — and elbow above the shoulders from Draymond Green and a little tussle under the basket with Andrew Bogut — Griffin had a flagrant foul committed against him, yet in both cases he got a technical too and was tossed for the second one. (Honestly, that second one was at most a double foul, neither Bogot nor Griffin deserved more.) This game was a bit more chippy than your average December regular season matchup but that’s what made it fun. This came off as the officials trying to get control of a game that wasn’t really out of control. They didn’t need to do it and the altered the game with their actions and poor decisions.

  1. LilTmac2003 - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:46 AM

    I don’t know if you guys watched the Bulls-Nets game, but I got to agree with Jason Kidd saying the team has no energy and passion.

    There was this one play where the ball was swatted from the rim to near mid court, and Reggie Evans originally started to sprint and than forgot he wasn’t the only one on the court, Jimmy Butler (who is returning from an ankle injury) out ran Evans to the ball from behind him, scooped the ball, and attacked the basket.

    …in which Evans pushed Butler while he was in mid air and Butler shot some free throws.

    That one play is basically a summary of the 2013 Brooklyn Nets.

  2. davidly - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    National Basketball Association.
    “I generally have a policy — you can’t blame an official’s bad call for the loss.” That quote from Kurt Helin reflects NBA policy, as well. It is one of the reasons why no small number of fans and former fans attitudes run the spectrum from suspecting the deck is stacked to believing the game is outright rigged. It’s also a reason why Charles Barkley’s plantation comment a couple of seasons ago was not dismissed wholesale by everyone. People can sense unhealthy authoritarianism. And what are the sleeves about?

  3. belleby123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Bulls playing without their two best players: A. There, I fixed it for you.

  4. chawbacon14 - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I’ve watched Griffin play since he was in high school. Its awfully funny how these altercations seem to follow him around. They occurred in his college days also. And how many times has he been involved in these little skirmishes ? Surely there’s an advanced stat for that. He’s has to lead the league in this stuff.

    Its never about the skirmish that utlimately ends the altercation, its usually been going on for the some time, if not the entire game and Griffin was the instigator the whole time.

    But he’s just innocent Blake Griffin, never does anything below the belt, never grabs and pushes or stretches a jersey , or do anything that might irritate and annoy an opposing player. This young man is an angel beyond reproach.

  5. dolphindubs - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    A few bad calls by the refs in the LAC-GS game, but did anyone else notice how many times Chris Paul walked up and smacked the ball out an opponents hands AFTER a whistle had been blown?

    Thats a punk move by a punk player.

  6. reupjosh - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    F – Christmas Day sleeved deep-V uniforms. When did American Apparel start making NBA gear? Awful.

  7. MyTeamsAllStink - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    sleeved uniforms are terrible.Whats next pants?

  8. timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Knicks would have still gotten killed if melo played.

  9. jimeejohnson - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Remember when the Nets were good? There was a short window and besides that they have always been as they are now: bad. I wish that were not the case as I do with the Knicks. That rivalry means nothing, again.

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