With another scoring display, guard James Harden was the leader in the day of the NBA, kept as a winner his team, the Rockets of Houston, who regain their status as contenders for the league title, and also claimed to be the Player Most Valuable (MVP) in the league.
On the same day the Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo consolidated as the new NBA star and the Golden State Warriors, the current defending champions, lost again, as did the Los Angeles Lakers, who played for the first time in the season without the legendary forward LeBron James, injured.
Harden was unstoppable and with 45 points he led the winning attack of the Rockets, who prevailed by 127-113 to the Boston Celtics, in what was his third consecutive victory and the eighth in the last nine games played.
The game was the eighth consecutive in which he got 30 or more points, something that was not achieved in the NBA since 2016 when he got the base Russell Westbrook; he scored 9 of 18 triple attempts and tied his best mark in that facet of the game.
The star guard of the Rockets also scored 14 of 17 field goals and distributed six assists, while the Swiss center Clint Capela supported him with another double-double of 24 points, 18 rebounds and a stopper, which left him leader of the inside game of the Houston team that dominated the Celtics with 54 balls captured under the hoops by 38 from Boston.
Harden has scored at least 35 points in six straight games, the NBA’s biggest streak since forward Carmelo Anthony, formerly of the Rockets, did so in April 2013.
The victory allowed the Rockets to go 19-15 and stay in first place in the Southwest Division, while they won the seventh game of the last eight that they played against the Celtics.
The base Kyrie Irving with a double-double of 23 points and 11 assists was the leader of the attack of the Celtics (19-15), who broke the streak of two consecutive wins and left at 9-9 their mark outside their field of TD Garden
Antetokounmpo returned to be the winning leader of the Milwaukee Bucks by providing a double-double of 31 points and 14 rebounds that allowed his team to beat the New York Knicks 112-96, in duels followed by exchanges of fields.
The Bucks had also won the Knicks (95-109), at Madison Square Garden, on Tuesday, Christmas Day.
Next to Antetokounmpo, the forward Khris Middleton also stood out in the offensive game of the Bucks to get 25 points and helped them win the sixth game of the last seven disputed that leaves them with a record of 24-10, the second best of the Conference This, and leaders of the Central Division.
The Damian Lillard base achieved the triple that meant the advantage, with 6.3 seconds remaining in the extension, and totaled 21 points for the Portland Trail Blazers to beat home 109-110 to the Warriors, who lost the second game in a row in their field of the Oracle Arena after having also fallen 101-127 defeated against the Lakers, on Christmas Day.
The forward Kevin Durant missed a shot just when the horn sounded, but got his second triple double of the season, with 26 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, in addition to having hit the triple that with 19 seconds remaining forced the extension.
Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a 3-pointer just as the horn sounded, and the Sacramento Kings trailed a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter and beat the Lakers 117-116, who played without James for the first time this season.
Bogdanovic finished with 23 points, while base De’Aaron Fox added 15, in addition to contributing 12 assists and nine rebounds.
James was absent due to a left groin injury and ended a streak of 156 consecutive games he had played, including the playoffs.
The winner of four league MVP awards, was injured on Christmas Day when the Lakers faced the Warriors and James slipped while fighting for a fumble with power forward Draymond Green and forced his right leg too hard.
Although in principle it was thought that James was only going to miss the game against the Kings, sources close to the team said that the absence of the star of the competition could last longer.
Power forward Kyle Kuzma contributed 34 points to compensate for James’ absence, while baseman Lonzo Ball scored a double-double of 20 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, which did not prevent defeat, the fourth of the Lakers last six matches played.
The guard JJ Redick scored 24 points, while the Cameroonian center Joel Embiid collaborated with a double-double – the thirty-first of the season – of 23 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks, the thirty-first of the season that helped The Philadelphia Sixers to win at home 97-114 to the Utah Jazz.
Australian point guard Ben Simmons scored his first triple-double of the season, with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
The guard Donovan Mitchell, who last season lost the duel with Simmons for the Rookie of the Year award, contributed 23 points as the leading scorer of the Jazz (17-19).
The Australian base Dante Exum achieved his best mark of the season with 20 points, while the French center Rudy Gobert contributed a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds.