It was Christmas eve, babe, in the drunk tank…
Oh wait, that's not quite how this Christmas story starts, and there's other places to go to hear about that beloved Christmas tradition. Everyone has their own favorite Christmas tradition, mine involves the heavy slate of marquee games the NBA has on Christmas Day. So armed with caffeine and Christmas cheer, I set out to watch as much of the NBA's five Christmas games as humanly possible. So from the opening tip-off between the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics to the final bucket of the game between between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. At the very least, I thought, I'll never have to listen to James Harden and Jason Kidd ruin "Jingle Bells" ever again.
Boston Celtics 93 - Brooklyn Nets 76
This was supposed to be the first meeting of Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries since their on-the-court incident ended Rondo's attempt to beat Magic Johnson's double digit assists records , but Humphries ended up sitting the game out. I worried that without that extra bit of drama that this would end up end up being something of a disappointing followup.
12:10pm ET: Opening tip!
12:12pm: Boston Celtics are up 4-0 and Avery Johnson already decides that they need to use one of their timeouts. So, Nets fans have an issue with this guy for some reason?
12:15pm: Or maybe that's just what the Nets needed, as they go off on an 8-0 run.
12:16pm: Fouling Jason Collins in the act of shooting? Okay that's an odd thing to do. Especially since Collins has no business being a starting center on any team not named the Bobcats, Kings or Wizards.
12:19pm: Jason Collins gets his second bucket of the year. Ride the hot hand, Doc!
12:23pm: I will never get sick of hearing "Christmas In Hollis" even if it's played every single commercial break. I am so in the Christmas spirit.
12:34pm: The Celtics are getting out-rebounded by the opposing team. You may remember this as happening in such recent Celtics games as "all of them".
12:39pm: End of the first quarter Celtics 22 Nets 24. Rajon Rondo hits a three near the end of the first quarter and then attempts to take a charge. If he's going to add these things as part of his arsenal, maybe it's a good thing that Rondo no longer is focused on an assists title.
12:46pm: Seriously, Jerry Stackhouse hits another three. What in the freaking world is up with this guy. Somewhere in a locked attic, there's a Jerry Stackhouse rookie card that shows him growing older and more decrepit while he's rejuvenated himself in Brooklyn.
12:49pm: Well there goes most of my holiday cheer, Avery "My Guy" Bradley will be out the next three games. The good news for the Celtics is that they will be shooting free throws for the remainder of the half and Avery Johnson has to call another time out.
12:55pm: Celtics go on 10-0 run. I guess whatever Avery Johnson said wasn't the right thing. Or maybe, just maybe, those sideline talks are a tad overrated as far as strategy goes.
12:57pm Celtics 41 Nets 31. James Herbert of Outside the NBA tweets: "If only the Celtics hadn't cut Dionte Christmas".
1:03pm: Celtics are going crazy on the courts here, and the Brooklyn Nets look a lot like the old New Jersey Nets.
1:10pm Celtics 51 Nets 39. The C's offense seems to be clicking, Rookie Jarred Sullinger is earning big minutes off of the bench. Somewhere on the Grantland side of the Force, Bill Simmons is saying "Is it too early to start to start the Sullinger triple-double watch? It's too early right?"
1:12pm: Why I love Twitter: "Jerry Stackhouse" is trending. Why I hate Twitter: #AGhettoSantaWould is also trending.
HALFTIME: Boston Celtics 56 - Brooklyn Nets 42
1:38pm: The Celtics bring their lead up to 16 points in the third quarter. Judging from previous Boston games, the Nets have them exactly where they want them.
1:41pm: Now it's an 18 point Celtics lead. The Celtics have not lost a game with an 18 point lead since the trade for Kevin Garnett. This is starting to be the point where the networks start to get irritated and openly rooting for the Nets to make a run.
1:44pm: Boston Celtics 64 - Brooklyn Nets 57. After several Celtics collapse, Doc Rivers call a timeout. I don't blame him, once you allow the Celtics to get a sizable lead in the third quarter you have them right where you want them.
2:00pm: Boston Celtics 73 - Brooklyn Nets 58. End of the third quarter.
2:07pm: Hey look, it's another Celtics/Nets brawl! Gerald Wallace pulls on Kevin Garnett's shorts. It takes the officials about five minutes to figure out what penalties are involved in all this. I'm sure this is exactly how they wanted to spend Christmas.
2:23pm: Celtics 84 - Nets 70. If coffee is for closers then the Celtics aren't even earning hot chocolate here. Despite the Nets' new identity, this is playing like a typical Celtics/Nets game. The Celtics are letting the Nets hang around, but the Nets don't capitalize enough to make a serious run.
2:28pm: A Jeff Green three will basically put an end things here. Crossover NBA knows what's up: "Knowing the NBA's luck, the #Nets and #Celtics will meet in the Playoffs for five ugly, fight-filled games". I am seriously cleaning up my bookmarks list right now.
FINAL: Boston Celtics 93 - Brooklyn Nets 76
Boston needed that win way more than Brooklyn, and it showed. I can't help but think that this game would have been a little more chippy had Kris Humphries played.
In any case, no one was expecting Nets/Celtics to be anything but an undercard for some of the upcoming games, especially...
Los Angeles Lakers 100 - New York Knicks 94
Yes, the Knicks came into this game as the favorites against the Lakers. The Lakers hired former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown, a move that has yet shown any immediate dividends, while the Knicks have flourished in D'Antoni's absence. The good news for the Lakers? Steve Nash and Pau Gasol returned from injuries to make this the New Look Lakers' true national debut.
3:06pm: Knicks 11 - Lakers 11. For the fans who are watching their first NBA game since the playoffs, the broadcasters patiently explain that Jeremy Lin is now with the Houston Rockets and that, yes, that is in fact that Jason Kidd playing instead and not his son or anything.
3:10pm: Gasol to Dwight Howard for the lay-up and THIS is what Lakers wanted to see happen when they traded off Andrew Bynum to bring in Dwight Howard. Enjoy Howard getting his shots early on because the Knicks will just put him on the free throw line non-stop come the fourth quarter.
3:13pm: Jason Kidd hits a monster three pointer. What the heck is with all of these ancient players staying useful by hitting threes? And how is Jason Kidd not on the Miami Heat yet? I thought they cornered the "old guys who can still knock down threes" market.
3:17pm: In the God I hate Dwight Howard so much category, from Arash Markazi: "Dwight Howard is trying to get his teammates to do a Mamba inspired chant for Kobe when his name is announced. Not everyone is on board". Just, seriously, no. Just no. You are no longer in Orlando, Dwight. There's no need for wacky dances.
3:24pm: Deadspin's Drew Magary tweets out the question that we're all asking: "Why are the Lakers dressed as the Temptations?
3:26pm: Kobe Bryant is trying to do everything, but I can never tell if there's any rhyme or reason for that happening. It's just what he does. I mean, the dude took 41 shots in a game a few nights ago.
3:28pm: Knicks 23 - Lakers 25. The Lakers get a zillion chances to tip the last shot of the quarter in, but nothing doing. Already this is a more watchable game than C's/Nets.
3:40pm: Chris Palmer points this out: "Kobe Bryant needs 29 points to become the all-time Christmas Day scoring leader". (Waits for a columnist to declare that Kobe Bryant doesn't really have a feel for Christmas.)
3:44pm: Dwight Howard unleashes a monstrous dunk... but it doesn't count because he gets called for traveling. Wait, wait, a superstar Lakers player gets called for a shot-erasing traveling violation? It's a Christmas miracle!
3:47pm: Mike D'Antoni gets called for a technical foul. Wow is the Lakers mystique starting to wane? (Just kidding, Mike D'Antoni will never have Lakers mystique.)
3:50pm: Carmelo Anthony gets called for a foul while jawing back and forth with Metta World Peace. Seriously? Do none of these other basketball players ever watch pro wrestling? Don't they know that this is what a heel does?
3:58pm: Okay, here's the bad thing for the Knicks: Carmelo Anthony already had three fouls. This is right around the few times where Knicks fans begin thinking "Hey, maybe we could use that Amar'e Stoudemire game".
4:02pm: Now playing at Staples center: "Upright" by Stevie Wonder which isn't technically a Christmas song but is close enough in feeling that I'll allow it, especially since I'm used to nothing but Dropkick Murphys here in Boston sporting events.
4:06pm: Metta World Peace takes a three and hits it. The National Old People Hitting Three-Pointers Association.
4:09pm: Well this is FUN basketball. I'm not entirely sure it's been good basketball.
4:45pm: The game has become a shoot-out between J.R. Smith and Metta World Peace, because obviously it's not like this game features any of the best scorers on the planet or anything.
4:49pm: Jodie Meeks has to be the least imposing name of anyone playing today on Christmas, he sounds like a '50s teen idol singer or a forgotten "Full House" cast member.
4:50pm: Kobe gets to 20 points. What took him so long?
4:53pm: Jump ball call as Metta World Peace and Tyson Chandler get into it now. Some of these players could be easily be goaded by the "Arrested Development" chicken-dance.
4:58pm: A ball goes off Raymond Felton to give the Lakers a shot. Kobe gets it off and gets the foul AND there's a technical on Felton to boot. The good news for the Knicks is that Kobe misses the tying technical and misses the "and one" free throw. That keeps the Knicks up by one point heading into the fourth quarter. Knicks 78, Lakers 77. A horrible last half-minute for New York to end the third quarter, but it could have been worse if Kobe were able to buy a free throw.
5:07pm: Saying good things about World Peace just sounds right on Christmas Day, doesn't it?
5:08pm: Carmelo Anthony now has 29 points. This is why I never complain about Anthony's lack of scoring early in a Knicks game. He's gonna get his numbers.
5:12pm: Whenever I can't tell what's playing over the PR speakers in a sports event these days, I just automatically assume it's "Gangnam Style".
5:13pm: Kobe Bryant hits a free throw that establishes himself as the NBA's all-time leading scorer on Christmas. The rest of the NBA should have made more out of their under-the-mistletoe moments.
5:22 pm: The Lakers defense in the Knicks' last possession can best be described as "Hold up, they're still the Knicks, maybe they're about to do something really dumb on their end on the ball".
5:23pm: The good news about the last five minutes has been that it was all really uptempo, but the bad part was it had to be because neither side could keep possession of the ball. This is the first, and likely last, time I'll say this this season but I wish the referees were calling more things. Knicks 86, Lakers 89.
5:26pm: Metta World Peace picks up his fifth foul. All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance!
5:33pm: The bad news for the Knicks is that Tyson Chandler picks up his sixth foul.
5:34pm: Note: Just because I've mentioned that there was bad news for the Knicks does not necessarily that there is any corresponding good news. On that note: Dwight Howard makes two free throws. Knicks 90, Lakers 94.
5:35pm: Merry Christmas everybody, the officials have declared an end to World Peace.
5:36pm: With World Peace out, Meeks will inherit the Earth, or at least get the ball back.
5:41pm: The Knicks and the Lakers both can't get their shots down but, finally, J.R. Smith hits a three-pointer to cut it into 94-96. Pau Gasol makes one of two free throws. The Knicks call a timeout with 40 seconds left. Knicks 94, Lakers 97.
5:48pm: Pau Gasol gets the biggest bucket of the Lakers season! It's 99-94 in favor of the Lakers. THE BIG BOY PANTS ARE ON!
5:51pm: Meeks makes one of two shots, and that will end the scoring tonight. Lakers 100 - Knicks 94. Final. So I switch over to..
Miami Heat 103 - Oklahoma City Thunder 97
5:52pm: ...the Thunder and the Heat. I pick things up when the Heat are up 11-2 on the Thunder with 8:40 left in the 1st quarter. Well, okay, this is looking like it's picked up when we last saw these two teams playing together.
5:56pm: Wow, are the Heat fans actually loud as all get out? When the heck did this happen?
5:58pm: Mario Chalmers is providing all the offense for the Miami Heat. What's with this guy and big games?
6:01pm: Russell Westbrook Beast Mode Activated, as he barrels through everyone, makes a layup and makes the score the more acceptable. It's the OKC Thunder 11, the Miami Heat 15.
6:03pm: Vladimir Louissaint: "Only on Jesus birthday can Lebron get a foul called".
6:08pm: LeBron James keeps track of his own shot, grabbing the rebound and pushing it back down. Next, he gets a defensive rebound from a Kevin Martin miss and tosses it to Chalmers who hits a three pointer to make it Thunder 15 - Heat 24. I don't want to worry everyone else in basketball, but it looks like LeBron James is... getting even better?
6:10pm: Mario Chambers follows that up with another layup and... man, if Chalmers is going to get these scoring opportunities on a team with LeBron, Wade and Bosh you might as well go home early.
6:11pm: Shane Battier draws a foul on Kevin Durant, his second, who then picks up a technical foul when he complains. The Heat are in the Thunder's head.
6:17pm: Kevin Martin makes a free throw and the Thunder are able to prevent Miami from scoring again. It's the Thunder 24, the Heat 27. The Heat having been playing phenomenal and the Thunder have been incredibly sloppy, but, after Collison makes two free throws, it's just a three point game at the end of the first quarter.
6:19pm: So far this Christmas I haven't been sucked into any family drama, haven't had to worry about gift receipts or hear a million versions of "All I Want For Christmas Is You". I for one am glad David Stern keeps the NBA going on Christmas.
6:21pm: A floater that just beats the shot cock? Yeah, LeBron can get one of those for you. Are you going to need that gift-wrapped?
6:28pm: Apparently I missed a pretty killer Xmas opening for the Miami Heat while the Lakers were finishing off the Knicks..
6:33pm: Does anyone doubt that David Stern would be impossibly happy with a Heat/Thunder Finals, one that went six or seven games this time? Or would his ideal match still be the Los Angeles Lakers somehow facing the Los Angeles Lakers?
6:37pm: Confession: My favorite NBA On Christmas tradition was that I could always sneak away from the rest of my family to watch it whenever things go too stressful. Note: This does not work if you're a Wizards or Bobcats fan.
6:43pm: Udonis Haslem draws the third foul on Kevin Durant. That's really, really really not what the Thunder wanted to do there. Also: Udonis Haslem is still on the Heat? He's like the Tim Meadows of that franchise.
6:50pm: Ray Allen is in the game for the Miami Heat. i guess if you're building a bench around old guys who can hit threes, you might as well sign Ray Allen for however much he's asking for. It's like trying to cast a Christopher Walken-type role for a movie and then deciding, "Screw it, I'll just see if Walken is available".
HALFTIME The Thunder 48 - The Heat 54. This should be an incredible game.
7:02pm: Random note: People who say that "Die Hard" is their favorite Christmas movie are deliberately missing the point. That's like saying "The Godfather" is your favorite film about horse racing.
(Note: Going over these notes later, this is around the time when the non-stop basketball starts to drive our narrator slowly insane.)
7:15pm: The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the best second half teams in the game. I know I kept saying that during the NBA Finals and those second half comebacks never managed to happen, but it's true. It's just that they were playing against a dominant Miami Heat team featuring an unstoppable LeBron James.
7:16pm: Wait, that's who they're facing here, isn't it?
7:27pm: This really is something of a great stretch of basketball to compare Durant and James. Durant keeps hitting these great shots, like he knows how to be effective and how to best to score the points his team needs. In comparison when James has the ball, he just takes the game over. There's no other way to put it. James grabs the ball and then can go anywhere. Durant is the better shooter, but James can do pretty much anything he wants on the court right now.
7:31pm: Wade hits the floor, which silences the crowd at American Airlines Arena. Wade seems to be in a lot of pain, but if there's one NBA superstar who will play whenever he's able at any percent (sometimes to the detriment of his team) it's Wade. I don't blame the Miami crowd for being worried though. The one factor more than any other that could prevent the Heat from a return trip to the Finals is a key injury on one of their top three guys.
7:33pm: The Thunder and the Heat are tied with a little over a minute left in the third. If the Heat can just keep it tied or just about tied until Wade returns from injury they have a good chance of winning this one.
7:45pm: Dwayne Wade returns at the very end of the third quarter. Was there any doubt? Watch him score 20 more points and have a Nike commercial out before the end of tonight's Clippers game. At the end of three quarters, it's the Thunder 72, the Heat 73.
7:49pm: Right now if I had to compare these games to food your relatives bring over at Christmas: This game is the pumpkin or apple pie that everyone tries to sneak a second slice away from everyone else. The Knicks/Lakers game was like Honeybaked Ham: It was real good, but you always imagined it it was a little bit more special than it actually is. Celtics/Nets? That was the cranberry sauce, but not the good cranberry sauce, the cranberry sauce with weird chunks of assorted other fruits in it.
7:51pm: More fighting! Russell Westbrook gets the ball stripped away from him by Shane Battier. It looks like a clean play on the ball, but Westbrook thinks its at least a flagrant foul. Wade tracked behind close to Westbrook and Battier but he didn't seem to be involved in the play in question. The officials talk it over.
7:55pm: This is the point where the cherry pie is cooling but the host refuses to cut into it and let anyone eat it. Also her no-good daughter has stolen the whipped cream and is trying to figure out how to do whippits with it.
7:57pm: Dwyane Wade is good for at least one play you've never seen before in your life. A nifty dunk with an assist for Ray Allen might be his best play of the night, especially considering that he's still probably playing hurt.
7:59pm: Kevin Durant hits a three pointer and makes two free throws and that will tie up the game, at least for now.
8:02pm: Mario Chalmers makes a jumper and then hits a three and I've seen this routine in basically every game the Heat won against the Thunder in the NBA Finals. The Thunder take a timeout down 79-86.
8:05pm: The Houston Rockets are about to tip off against the Chicago Bulls, but, seriously, unless you're a big Rockets fan or (more likely) a big Bulls fan, there is no reason for you to switch from this game. Just none.
8:08pm: Everybody has gone insane. We are officially in "everything is allowed, nothing is forbidden" offensive territory here. Miami is loud. I'm so so so glad I'm not obligated to liveblog this game in real time. I can barely even keep track of it just with my eyes.
8:15pm: Oh, the worst possible time for a patented Russell Westbrook turnover. Bosh grabs it, hands it to Ray Allen who gets it to LeBron who draws a foul from Serge Ibaka and then makes two free throws. Everyone had something to do in that possession.
8:19pm: Westbrook does a whole bunch of Westbrook things here. He gets fouled by Ray Allen, then he makes two free throws. After Ray Allen misses a three pointer, Westbrook collects the defensive rebound. Westbrook misses the lineup and the ball goes back to the Heat. it's Heat 96, the Thunder 92 with 2:53 left. We have a time out. There's essentially no way that the Rockets/Bulls or Nuggets/Clippers will be anywhere near as good as this one, right?
8:23pm: Ray Allen gets hurt, and Spoelstra tries to take him out, but Allen runs back in like near the end of a James Brown encore. There's some confusion about what Spoelstra can do here. If this were hockey there would be a "too many men on the ice penalty" at some point here.
8:26pm: A Kevin Durant made free throw and a wild slam brings the Thunder one point behind the Heat. Miami calls a timeout with 44 seconds left. Is this actually one of those NBA Finals rematches that actually lives up to the opening hype?
8:29pm: I'm guessing that the Heat are going to run a play through LeBron James here, and yup they double team the King so he just passes to a wide open Chris Bosh who lays one in for what might be the game winner. Thunder 95, Heat 98. There are 25 seconds left in the game. I can't wait to see what the Thunder have come up with in the huddle. I'm guessing it's not going to be a Kendrick Perkins jumper.
8:31pm: Instead it's Durant who makes a jumper.
8:33pm: Ray Allen gets to the line and calmly makes two free throws, which is exactly why they paid the money to get the disgruntled sharpshooter from the Celtics in the off-season.
8:34pm: There's 15 seconds left in the game and the Thunder need three to tie. There's commotion on the floor and Westbrook gets called for a personal foul and then a technical foul for battling back. Ray Allen makes the technical, which basically makes the rest of the game meaningless. Chris Bosh hits two extraneous free throws to give the Miami Heat a 103-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Well, this ending isn't going to end up being controversial at all, is it?
8:37pm: And, of course, Mario Chalmers ends up being the player of the game. Because that's where the Vegas money was before this game started.
Houston Rockets 120 - Chicago Bulls 97
8:42pm: Meanwhile in the United Center in Chicago, the Houston Rockets have been playing the Chicago Bulls, which would probably have quite a big more hype if Chicago point guard Derrick Rose were still not out with injury. The Rockets are up 37-26 over the Bulls early in the second quarter when I switch over.
8:51pm: So far, the Houston Rockets player of the game is James Harden. That's not surprising.
8:53pm: Apparently the Bulls have been attempting to play Nate Robinson a whole bunch. Did I mention that this game was a definite letdown after the Heat/Thunder? Cause it totally is. I miss Linsanity already.
8:58pm: Okay this is when the basketball marathon gets rough. It's the Rockets 55, Bulls 34 with 2:44 left in the second quarter. I'm just hoping for James Harden has one of his crazy games like he had earlier with Houston, just starts exploding for video game numbers.
9:06pm: What Christmas leftovers would this game be? Those buns that turn rock hard minutes after they're out of the oven? Stuffing ruined by raisins?
Halftime! Rockets 58 - Bulls 41
9:17pm: A Bulls commentator: "It's going to be hard to watch this second half". No kidding. I'm counting down the minutes until 10:30pm when I get my first full look at Lob City.
9:29pm: "Who on the Bulls pissed off Santa?" Rockets 69, Bulls 45. 8:18 left in the third quarter. My girlfriend and I are instead discussing our favorite "Oz" characters.
9:30pm: I would rather watch this inmates/corrections officers two-on-two battle in full than the remainder of this game.
9:35pm: Okay, so this game isn't the best to showcase the Chicago Bulls, but they're doing rather well in keeping afloat until Derrick Rose returns. They're fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, which is pretty wide open outside the Miami Heat. Besides the Knicks, who seem for real despite their loss to the Lakers earlier today, are any of these other contenders in the East really that frightening? The Atlanta Hawks? The Brooklyn Nets? The Indiana Pacers? The Boston Celtics? Just be in the mix and hope Rose can come back as some semblance of his MVP self. That's what Chicago has to be thinking this early in the year.
9:40pm: Oh, hey, Nate Robinson is starting to have those "no one else is having a good game so I might as well try to do something, anything here and see what happens" games.
9:52pm: Where are you Blake Griffin and Chris Paul? Houston Rockets 94, Chicago Bulls 68. End of the third quarter.
9:57pm: "I like what Nate did just there." STOP ENCOURAGING HIM!
10:04pm: Nate Robinson gets a bucket and draws a foul for a potential three-point play. Of course he makes it. Giving Robinson this kind of confidence in his decision making is pretty much the worst possible thing that could possibly happen to the Chicago Bulls.
10:05pm: Nate Robinson hits a bucket to increase his points total to 21 points. Rockets 102, Bulls 85, 7:52 left in the fourth quarter.
10:07pm: The girlfriend is trying to get through the "Supernatural" pilot. Apparently it's kind of ridiculous and difficult to believe even when it's happening in front of you? This is also a decent enough description of Robinson's night so far.
10:12pm: The trick with Nate Robinson is that he's a high-energy player who looks really well when playing with teammates who are obviously gassed as the Bulls are. Which is great, Robinson's a useful player if a team can use him properly. I'd like to think Tom Thibodeau, one of the best coaches in the game, has got a good enough sense to realize this.
10:22pm: Nate Robinson drains a three, which of course falls in. Robertson attempts to score again, fails and gets his own rebound and then misses another jumper. Mercifully the clock runs out, and the Houston Rockets beat the Chicago Bulls 120-97.
Los Angeles Clippers 112 - Denver Nuggets 100
10:40pm: So, a win tonight would give the Los Angeles Clippers the best record in the NBA. I know that it's relatively early in the season, but that's something that Clippers fans would have to be proud about.
10:42pm: Blake Griffin gets the first bucket of the game, and follows it up with his one-thousandth Kia commercial of the night.
10:55pm: Am I a bad person for just waiting around for JaVale McGee to do something utterly ridiculous? In any case, he contributes a standard layup to put the Nuggets up 17-15 early on.
10:59pm: Lamar Odom scores two points and then thinks to himself "Oh wow Lamar Odom, I haven't heard my name in a basketball context forever, whatever happened to me anyway?"
11:01pm: The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" is playing in the background. I always approve this.
11:07pm: End of the 1st quarter: Nuggets 26, Clippers 25. This doesn't have the star power of Heat/Thunder but this is kind of a craft beer of a basketball game.
11:11pm: "I predict a Blake Griffin dunk in this game" notes Steve McPherson.
11:21pm: At this point I don't even comprehend what people who don't watch basketball do on any day, let alone Christmas.
11:23pm: I still find it amusing when I'm reminded that Vinny del Negro is still the coach of the Clippers. It's not quite as amusing as when I remember that Norv Turner is still head coach of the San Diego Chargers, but it's getting close to that level.
11:36pm: The Clippers are 53-42 over the Nuggets. How rare is this sort of start in Clippers history? Ben Maller comes up with a revealing stat: "Nine times since 1981-82 season LA Clippers have failed to reach 20 wins in an entire season. This year they did it before Christmas".
11:39pm: And ANOTHER crazy Blake Griffin dunk. Matt Barnes adds a three-pointer to put his current points to raise his total to 15. This could be shaping up to be the greatest Christmas in Clippers history. (Note: There is very little competition.)
HALFTIME. Denver Nuggets 48, Los Angeles Clippers 67.
11:48pm: Rob Mitchum: "Mute-watching DEN-LAC also allows me to provide my own commentary: 'Limbs! Limbs everywhere!!! Ahhhhh!'"
12:00am: With Christmas officially over on the East Coast I will admit that highlight was learning that Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going To Take It" was based on "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". Listen to this if you don't believe me.
12:07am: The Nuggets score the first six points of the 3rd quarter, which makes this closer to a real game.
12:10am: The Nuggets keep clawing their way back in and Vinny del Negro calls a timeout. It's the Nuggets 56, Clippers 69.
12:14am: I just realize we've hit the twelve hour mark here of my NBA Christmas Day marathon experience. Andre Iguodala dunks and Danilo Gallinari makes a technical foul which is called on Chris Paul. The Nuggets cut the Clippers lead to 10 points. Meanwhile, I have forgotten the names of my loved ones and no longer have any concept of the term "outside".
12:20am: Netw3rk tweets out this example that we're not the only analysts who are starting to feel the burn out. "'This idea that after big first half leads the game is over is wrong.' - Jeff Van Gundy, explaining why games have four quarters."
12:30am: Chris Paul hits a three to end the third quarter. So, the Clippers take a 93-76 lead over the Nuggets into the last quarter of basketball of the evening. I think now's the time to grab that energy drink I had been saving for a special occasion.
12:33am: Okay, this time I'm not even joking, that's totally "Gangnam Style". I am so done with 2012, I don't know about the rest of you.
12:36am: The officials are reviewing something, perhaps checking to see how long they could possibly delay the start of the fourth quarter without me yelling at my laptop.
12:41am: Ronny Turiaf makes a bucket and the Clippers bench explodes. It's kinda endearing. The Clippers take a 98-79 lead.
12:58am: The wave is breaking out at Staples Center which means this one is about over.
1:06am: The crowd cheers, as well as they should. The Clippers defeat the Nuggets 112-100 and have the best record in the NBA and have now won 14 straight games.
1:06am: Well, what did we learn after all this? The Los Angeles Lakers have improved their record, but the Clippers showed that the Lakers aren't even the best team in L.A. let alone the Western Conference. The Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls seem just as flawed now as they did before their showcase games. The New York Knicks are for real, but it still seems more likely that the Miami Heat will make a return trip to the NBA Finals, possibly in a rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In fact, I'm not entirely sure we learned anything at all this Christmas other than the fact that the rest of this season is going to be a lot of fun, but what more do you want out of the best holiday of the year than that?
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