Celtics defeat Lakers in NBA Christmas clash

Luka Doncic scored 50 points, hitting the 10,000-point plateau as he propelled the Dallas Mavericks to a 128-114 victory over Phoenix on Monday as Boston downed the Lakers in a Christmas clash of storied NBA rivals.

Doncic drilled eight three-pointers, his long trey with 4:52 left in the first quarter taking him past 10,000 career points.

The 24-year-old Serbian is the sixth-fastest to reach 10,000 points in terms of age and tied for the seventh-fastest in terms of games played at 358.

Doncic’s milestone bucket put the Mavs up 21-11. But he and the Mavericks had plenty more work to do against a determined Suns team that rallied from a 15-point deficit and led by six early in the fourth quarter.

A 17-4 scoring run midway through the final quarter carried Dallas to a 115-106 lead and Dallas held on from there, Doncic revelling in the victory in front of hostile Suns fans.

“It’s fun for me,” said Doncic, who added six rebounds, 15 assists, four steals and three blocked shots.

“When you make a shot, the whole gym is quiet. So that’s the best feeling in the world.”

Grayson Allen scored 19 of his 32 points in the third quarter for Phoenix. Devin Booker added 20 points and 10 assists and Kevin Durant scored 16, but the night belonged to Doncic.

He made all 12 of his free throws as he became the fourth player to score 50 or more points on Christmas, which the NBA traditionally celebrates with a slate of marquee games.

On Monday that included the Celtics at the Lakers — the two teams with the most NBA titles at 17 apiece.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Jayson Tatum added 25 points for the Celtics, who withstood a 40-point effort from Lakers star Anthony Davis in their 126-115 victory.

Lakers star LeBron James scored just 16 points on five-of-14 shooting.

The Celtics roared out of the gate to a 12-0 lead and led by as many as 18 before the Lakers began to chip away, trimming the deficit to one point at halftime.

Both teams got a scare late in the second period, when James and Jaylen Brown collided. Both went down, James holding his left knee and Brown his back, but both returned to the game.

Tatum said the thing he liked best about the victory was how Boston responded after the Lakers closed the gap, taking a two-point lead early in the third on Jarred Vanderbilt’s dunk.

“And it’s a big win, right? It’s Christmas day and it’s tough to win on the road,” Tatum said after the Celtics improved to a league-best 23-6.

The day started with the New York Knicks’ 129-122 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden, where Jalen Brunson scored 38 points and the Knicks halted Milwaukee’s seven-game winning streak.

The Knicks had lost their previous nine games against Milwaukee, including a 130-111 decision on Saturday.

– Kerr blasts officiating –

The reigning champion Denver Nuggets beat Golden State 120-114 in a battle of the last two title winners which left Warriors coach Steve Kerr fuming at the officiating.

Jamal Murray scored 28 points and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic overcame a poor shooting day by going 18-for-18 at the free-throw as the Nuggets took their winning streak to five games.

Despite connecting on just four of 12 shots from the field Jokic finished with 26 points, adding 14 rebounds and eight assists to help the Nuggets come out on top in a seesaw battle.

The Warriors came into the contest riding a five-game winning streak. But superstar Stephen Curry was limited to 18 points on seven-of-21 shooting as Andrew Wiggins led Golden State with 22 points off the bench.

After Jokic took 14 second-half free-throws Kerr blasted the NBA for “legislating defense out of the game”.

“If I were a fan, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch the second half of that game, it was disgusting,” Kerr said.

“It was just baiting refs into calls, but the refs have to make those calls because that’s how they’re taught,” added Kerr, who decried what he called “a parade to the free-throw line.”

In Miami, rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to propel the Heat to a 119-113 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers who were without NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid.

Bam Adebayo scored 26 points with 15 rebounds and Tyler Herro added 22 points for Miami, whose coach Erik Spoelstra improved to 9-0 in Christmas games.