NBA Christmas Day: LeBron suffers groin injury in showdown with Warriors

LeBron James left Los Angeles' 127-101 win against Golden State midway through the third quarter on Tuesday with a strained left groin, and the Lakers expected to know more about his status following an MRI exam Wednesday.

The Lakers star grabbed at his left groin after slipping under the Warriors basket at the 7:51 mark of the third trying for a loose ball. He said he has had the injury before but “not in a long time.”

"It's pretty rare for me to have an injury, period," he said. "It happens and we've got a great medical staff here, I've got a great trainer."

James tried to stretch it out, awkwardly walked toward the Lakers bench trying to loosen up before leaving on his own, though gingerly out the tunnel for the locker room.

"I wasn't able to go back into the game, obviously. I'll get an MRI tomorrow and see what's up," James said. "With me with injuries, I'm never too concerned about them. I was able to walk off on my own power. I felt a pop, see if I could stretch it a few times, see if it would relieve but it didn't. … I did a couple exercises to see if I could continue to go but I didn't feel like it would benefit my team or me. So I came back and got a jump start on the rehab."


James, playing his second straight Christmas game against the Warriors at Oracle Arena after losing last year's matchup with Cleveland, had 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists before exiting.

Coach Luke Walton said he would prepare for the Lakers to be without James on Thursday night at Sacramento.

James has played in 156 straight games overall and 116 in the regular season.

"I take a lot of pride in it," James said. "That's why it [angered me] not to be able to go back into the game. It's more than anything being available to my teammates, being available to my coaching staff. That's something I take more personal than anything. Hopefully it's not a long thing."

Celtics get a boost from Irving in OT win over Sixers

Kyrie Irving extended the game with a clutch shot, then ended it with two more in overtime.

Irving scored six of his 40 points in overtime, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers while leading Boston back from a five-point deficit as the Celtics beat the 76ers 121-114 on Tuesday night.

"Just competition at its highest. I love going against the best. It's not too often you get to do that in the regular season, especially on a holiday like Christmas," said Irving, who also pulled down 10 rebounds. "I got to open presents with my family this morning then come into work. It was great."

It came very close to not being so great for Boston, which needed Irving's fadeaway jumper from 13-feet out to tie it at 108 with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, forcing the OT.

The Sixers, much improved from the team that lost here 105-87 in the season-opener, scored the first five points of OT, but could not stop Irving when they needed to — again.

"There aren't many in his weight class," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "Inevitably, you've got to stop him."

Irving hit a 3-pointer with 2:01 left to put Boston up 115-114, then struck again from 30-feet with 1:29 remaining in the OT and the Celtics held on to improve to 2-0 against Philadelphia this season.

Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris scored 23 apiece for Boston and Terry Rozier had 10 points.

Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 34 points, making 12 of 12 free throws, and pulled down 16 rebounds. 

Harden has Rockets back on track

James Harden is on a roll and it's helping the Houston Rockets get on track after their terrible start to the season.

Harden scored 41 points and the Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Tuesday for their seventh win in the last eight games.

Harden has scored 30 points or more in a career-high seven games in a row, marking the first time a player has done that since Russell Westbrook had eight consecutive 30-point games in November 2016. He has scored at least 35 in his last five, which is the longest such streak since Carmelo Anthony did it in six games in April 2013.

The Rockets won just one of their first six games this season and were 11-14 after a three-game skid in early December. Since then, powered by Harden's dominance, Houston has lost just once to improve to 18-15 and move a season-high three games above .500.

"We've had that confidence all year," Harden said. "Our record isn't where we want it to be, but it's getting there. And we've got to continue to work hard every day, continue to get better and grow. We're preparing for a post-season. We're not going to be at our tip top right now."

Antetokounmpo brings excitement in Christmas debut

Giannis Antetokounmpo was so eager to make a rim-rocking Christmas debut that he overshot the basket on his first attempt, a dunk from one side that ended with the ball all the way in the opposite corner.

“I was so excited that I went a little bit too high and I thought the rim was a foot taller,” Antetokounmpo said.

He and the Milwaukee Bucks eventually settled down and showed they belonged on the holiday stage.

Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds, and Milwaukee celebrated its return to the Christmas schedule by beating the New York Knicks 109-95 on Tuesday.

"This is one of the highest stages," Antetokounmpo said. "Special teams play Christmas Day, and just it's an opportunity for us and we're really happy."

Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Bucks, who played on Christmas for the first time since 1977. They were selected for the showcase slate of games largely because of Antetokounmpo but the timing also was perfect to show an emerging team, which improved the NBA's second-best record to 23-10.

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