Warriors top Suns for NBA lead; Nets return to beat Lakers


Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots between Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and guard Cameron Payne during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots between Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and guard Cameron Payne during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to a foul called against him during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) defends against Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)


PHOENIX (AP) — Stephen Curry had 33 points, Otto Porter Jr. scored seven of his 19 during a key late stretch and the Golden State Warriors regained to top spot in the NBA from Phoenix, beating the Suns 116-107 on Saturday.

Golden State arrived in the desert short-handed, missing three of its top four scorers to health and safety protocols: Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole.

Curry carried most of the load, overcoming a mediocre shooting night to crack 20 points for the first time in nine Christmas games. He finished 10 for 27, including 5 for 16 from 3 to help the Warriors end Phoenix’s 15-game home winning streak.

Instead of Curry, it was Porter taking over down the stretch, hitting a step-back 3 and a pair of jumpers in a span of 1:02.

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points in the Suns’ third loss in 28 games.

The two teams with the NBA’s best records played in just the third Christmas game in which both teams had a winning percentage of at least .800.

NETS 122, LAKERS 115

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nic Claxton threw down a tiebreaking alley-oop over LeBron James with 40.7 seconds left, and James Harden and Brooklyn returned from a week-long COVID-19 hiatus to beat Los Angeles.

Harden had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to become the eighth player with a Christmas triple-double. The last helper was a lob that Claxton caught with two hands while soaring over James, who had just helped Los Angeles erase a 20-point deficit. Claxton posterized the 17-time All-Star, then made a free throw for a three-point play and a 118-115 lead.

Patty Mills added 34 points for the Nets, who had their past three games postponed because they did not have enough players to compete. They were still without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others.

James scored 39 points to pass Kobe Bryant for most career points on Christmas Day, but it was not enough to stop the Lakers’ losing streak from reaching five. Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for his second career holiday triple-double.

BUCKS 117, CELTICS 113

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols to score 36 points, and Wesley Matthews hit a 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left to give Milwaukee its first lead in the Bucks’ victory over Boston.

Seeing his first action since Dec. 12, Antetokounmpo played 30 minutes and connected on 13 of 23 shots while shooting 10 for 15 from the free-throw line. Milwaukee also got center Bobby Portis and guard Donte DiVincenzo back from COVID-19 protocols.

Boston had just eight players available after putting Dennis Schroder in the protocols earlier Saturday, but took control behind Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the opening quarter. Jayson Tatum also scored 25 points for Boston, which led by as many as 19 and went into halftime with a 35-22 advantage.

KNICKS 101, HAWKS 87

NEW YORK (AP) — Kemba Walker became the seventh NBA player with a triple-double on Christmas, and New York beat depleted Atlanta for its first victory on the holiday in a decade.

Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks in a matchup of teams that met in the first round of last season’s playoffs. But the Hawks were missing Trae Young among nine players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, so it wasn’t much of a rematch of Atlanta’s five-game victory.

Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the first triple-double on Christmas since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017. John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 points for the Hawks.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots between Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and guard Cameron Payne during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/12/web1_127865923-8116166a92ec4d42a66d5866dece30e1.jpgGolden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots between Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and guard Cameron Payne during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to a foul called against him during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/12/web1_127865923-ca1c950f88ec4c5fa2198c95ab858f18.jpgPhoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to a foul called against him during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) defends against Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/12/web1_127865923-7e942f57f67449e2acd4efa8d99e5196.jpgLos Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) defends against Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)