LeBron James left with a groin injury but the Los Angeles Lakers regrouped for a 127-101 blowout win over two-time defending champion Golden State that snapped an 11-game losing streak on the Warriors’ home court.
“That was our most complete game of the season,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton. “We knew they were going to go on a run and a lot of the time we rely on LeBron or our veteran leaders to keep us in it.”
“Without LeBron, the group as a whole did a good job of fighting back.”
James was injured halfway through the third quarter when he reached for a loose ball. He grimaced and grabbed his left groin before heading to the sidelines where he tried to stretch it out.
He was moving gingerly when he left the court for good and headed to the team’s locker room.
“Hopefully it is not a long thing I can get back on the floor as soon as possible,” said James, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Walton said team doctors would examine James on Wednesday.
“He will get an MRI tomorrow and we will have a better understanding of what he has got going on,” Walton said.
Kyle Kuzma contributed 19 points, Croatian Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo 15 points and 10 assists as the Lakers won on the Warriors’ home floor for the first time in six years.
They also ended a seven-game losing streak overall in the series with their first win in the California rivalry since 2016.
“We just want to continue to get better,” James said. “It is always the next man up. You have to be able to take punches and punch back and we were able to do that.”
Kevin Durant had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Andre Iguodala came off the bench scored a season-high 23 points in the contest — one of five NBA games on Christmas Day.
Golden State struggled mightily from three-point range, shooting just nine for 36 overall, with Stephen Curry going two of eight and Durant three for eight.
Elsewhere, James Harden scored 41 points as the Houston Rockets recorded their seventh win in their last eight games with a 113-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden has scored 35 points or more in his last five contests, which is the longest such streak since Carmelo Anthony did it over a six-game stretch in April 2013.
“Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but it’s getting there,” Harden said. “And we’ve got to continue to work hard every day, continue to get better and grow.”
Harden became the first player to score 40 or more points on Christmas since Durant had 44 for the Thunder eight years ago.
Russell Westbrook sank one of two free throws to cut the Rockets’ lead to just three points with 15 seconds left, but Houston’s Austin Rivers made a free throw with seven seconds left to secure the victory.
In New York, Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 30 points and 14 rebounds as the high-scoring Milwaukee Bucks took their frustrations out on the New York Knicks with a 109-95 win.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points in the Bucks’ victory.
– Avenge loss –
Milwaukee leads the league in scoring but they were coming off an embarrassing loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday in which they scored just 87 points.
The Bucks also wanted to avenge a 136-134 loss in overtime to the Knicks, the last time the two teams met on December 1 at Madison Square Garden.
“This is one of the highest stages,” said Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, who were playing on Christmas for the first time since 1977. “Special teams play Christmas Day, and… it’s an opportunity for us and we’re really happy.”
In Boston, Kyrie Irving made a clutch shot to force overtime then scored six points in the extra session as the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 121-114.
Irving finished with 40 points, hitting back-to-back three-pointers in overtime while leading Boston back from a five-point deficit.
In regulation, he nailed a 13-foot jump shot to tie it 108-108 with 20 seconds to go in the fourth and force the OT. Agence France-Presse