76ers 86 (1-28), Cavaliers 108 (18-7)
Kyrie Irving’s season debut went about as well as he could have hoped. After announcing his intent to play against Philadelphia just yesterday, Irving posted 12 points with four assists, two steals, and a rebound. With Irving held to under 20 minutes in his first game back from a fractured kneecap, LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova picked up the offensive slack with 23 and 20 points, respectively. If Delly keeps up this level of play, Irving’s return to the rotation may not lead to a stark decrease in minutes.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 20, 2015
Bucks 101 (11-18), Suns 95 (12-17)
Milwaukee pulled off a close victory in head coach Jason Kidd’s last game before taking an indefinite leave of absence to undergo hip surgery. Entering Sunday’s game without Giannis Antetokounmpo available, Khris Middleton led the team’s scoring with 26 points, and Michael Carter-Williams added 20.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 20, 2015
Timberwolves 100 (11-16), Nets 85 (7-20)
This game was decided by Minnesota’s big men. Karl-Anthony Towns posted big numbers from both ends of the court, and Gorgui Dieng scored 20 points in a season-high 36 minutes. Adding further insult to injury, Kevin Garnett had some remarks for Nets fans in his return to Brooklyn.
Kevin Garnett, returning to Brooklyn today and Boston tomorrow, asked this week to compare NY and Boston fans…
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) December 20, 2015
Hawks 103 (17-12), Magic 100 (15-12)
Atlanta shot 50% from the field Sunday and received a double-double from Paul Millsap, who posterized Jason Smith in the process. Staying true to form, Kyle Korver was lights out from downtown, draining six of eight three-point attempts.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 21, 2015
Kings 104 (11-17), Raptors 94 (17-12)
Sacramento emerged victorious in a battle between two teams with short benches. Anthony Bennett of the Raptors raised eyebrows by requesting a one-day D-League assignment, while Kyle Lowry was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with officials. Omri Casspi and Rajon Rondo each posted double-doubles for the Kings, while DeMarcus Cousins added a monster jam in a 15-point showing.
Trail Blazers 109 (11-18), Heat 116 (16-10)
Hassan Whiteside continues to develop into one of the league’s premier centers. After being signed by Miami in Nov. 2014 as a reclamation project, Whiteside- the league’s leading shot-blocker- has now grabbed double-digit rebounds in each of his last six games. Despite 32 points from Damian Lillard, and an insane dunk from Gerald Henderson, the scuffling Trail Blazers have now dropped three straight.
Pelicans 130 (8-19), Nuggets 125 (11-16)
The much-maligned Pelicans picked up a hard-fought victory over Kenneth Faried (21 points, 13 boards) and the Nuggets. Anthony Davis played through a flu to pick up 27 points, while Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and Jrue Holliday all scored over 20 points. While he got attention from his shoe-throwing antics last week, Will Barton deserves serious props for his play of late. The 24-year-old reached a career-high 32 points off the bench Sunday, and has now scored in the double-digits in each of his last 12 games.