Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-106 on Wednesday night in the NBA’s marquee Christmas game.
LeBron James, who finished with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, aggravated a nagging groin injury after a first-quarter collision with Patrick Beverley and could miss game time moving forward.
According to ESPN, several members of the Lakers organization have already approached James about the urgency to sit out and rehab his groin injury until he feels fully recovered.
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James told the network. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
Montrezl Harrell had 18 points off the bench, Paul George added 17 and the Clippers improved to 2-0 against the Lakers this season.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points while Anthony Davis had 24. The Lakers have lost a season-worst four straight games.
Los Angeles had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but video review showed James touched the ball last after Beverly knocked it away as James went up for a three.
George hit two free throws for the final margin.
James, who turns 35 this week, suffered a torn left groin against the Golden State Warriors last Christmas that derailed the Lakers’ season.
Milwaukee Bucks 109-121 Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo in Philadelphia’s first home Christmas game in 31 years, finishing with 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the three-point happy 76ers beat Milwaukee.
Tobias Harris sank five threes, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz each had four and even Embiid hit three as part of Philly’s season-high 21 threes (on 44 attempts) against a Bucks team that had the best record in the NBA.
Harris and Al Horford hit threes over the final 90 seconds to push back a late Bucks run, and the Sixers improved to 16-2 at home.
Khris Middleton scored 31 points for Milwaukee, and Antetokounmpo had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Antetokounmpo got flustered over a perceived missed call and was whistled for a technical in the fourth.
New Orleans Pelicans 112-100 Denver Nuggets
Brandon Ingram scored 31 points, Derrick Favors grabbed 13 rebounds and the Pelicans surprised Denver to halt the Nuggets’ seven-game winning streak.
The 9-23 Pelicans are now 2-0 against the Nuggets this season. They spoiled the festive mood at the Pepsi Center as the Nuggets played at home on Christmas for the first time in 25 years.
New Orleans sprang the upset despite committing 19 turnovers. The Pelicans pulled away late courtesy of the long-range shooting of Lonzo Ball and Ingram. They also out-rebounded the Nuggets, including 14 offensive boards.
New Orleans finished a four-game trip with a 3-1 mark, which includes consecutive wins for the first time in a month.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points in the last of five Christmas games where the home teams went 2-3.
Boston Celtics 118-102 Toronto Raptors
Jaylen Brown scored 30 points, Kemba Walker had 22 and Boston beat Toronto in the first Christmas Day NBA game played in Canada.
Enes Kanter had 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Celtics snapped an eight-game losing streak north of the border and became the first Atlantic Division opponent to win in Toronto in more than four years.
Boston’s Gordon Hayward returned to the starting lineup after missing the past three games because of a sore left foot. He scored 14 points in 26 minutes.
Fred VanVleet scored 27 points in the Raptors’ second straight loss, and Chris Boucher had a career-high 24.
Toronto had gone an NBA-record 34 games between home losses to division foes. The Raptors’ last home loss to an Atlantic team was a 111-109 defeat to the New York Knicks on Nov. 10, 2015.
Houston Rockets 104-116 Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, Damion Lee had 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds and Golden State beat Houston.
D’Angelo Russell added 20 points, and Glenn Robinson III had 18 to help the Warriors win their third straight and end the Rockets’ four-game winning streak. Injury-ravaged Golden State improved to 7-24.
Russell Westbrook had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Houston. James Harden had 24 points and 11 assists, and Danuel House Jr. had 18 points.