Playing in his 14th career game on Christmas Day, LeBron James was in the process of leading the Los Angles Lakers over the Golden State Warriors before suffering a strained groin in the third quarter.
James didn’t return but the Lakers managed to hang on for a 127-101 victory. Golden State uncharacteristically didn’t shoot well from deep in the first half, which allowed L.A. to build a double-digit lead. A 12-2 run to close the first quarter put them ahead 32-25.
While the Warriors were in the midst of missing 12 consecutive 3-pointers, a James fadeaway extended the Lakers’ lead to 15 points. Upon James checking out of the game and being taken to the locker room, Stephen Curry caught fire from behind the arc to key an 11-0 run.
Golden State got to within one basket but Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson beating the buzzer helped the Lakers extend their lead to nine points heading into the fourth quarter.
Rondo continued to orchestrate and control tempo, which included making a 3-pointer that pushed their lead to 15 points. Just as important was Ivica Zubac in his third consecutive start.
He anchored the defense, kept offensive possessions alive and was an option when the Lakers dropped the ball down low. Rondo endured a bit of an injury scare himself when he and Draymond Green collided.
Rondo shook it off and found Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the next possession for a 3-pointer that put the Warriors in a 112-90 deficit. Rondo later found Josh Hart in semi-transition for what essentially was a back-breaking three.
Entering Tuesday, the Lakers had lost seven in a row to Warriors, and 11 consecutive games at Oracle Arena (since 2012).
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