Professional Sports

THE SPORTS SHAQ: Christmas Day gave us many sporting gifts

Christmas Day was an awesome day for sports fans. It gave us five basketball games on television and two football games.

The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors took on the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals rematch and what has become a Christmas Day game that we all have looked forward to for quite some time now. This game, like we would expect, was a controversial one and came down to the last minute.

Christmas Day also gave us the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, and Kyrie Irving’s first Christmas game without LeBron James when the Boston Celtics took on a backcourt duo in John Wall and Bradly Beal and the rest of the Washington Wizards.

Football did not want to be left out so they gave us a Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans matchup and the Philadelphia Eagles and the Oakland Raiders.

The finals rematch game was definitely one to see. In a game that was missing superstars Stephen Curry and Isiah Thomas, we could focus on the match up against Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

While some may still be debating that James is no longer the best player in the world, that torch has been passed on to Durant. Durant took on James for the majority of the game, showing he will definitely not shy away from the competition and that he is up for the challenge.

This game came down to the last 30 seconds and Durant delivered on both ends of the floor.

The controversial play came when James drove to the basket in the fading seconds and Durant whacked away any chance the Cavaliers had at a Christmas Day comeback. Durant pumped his fist multiple times in excitement, emphatically shaking his head and pounding his chest in delight.

He looked a lot like the Durant from the 2017 NBA Finals just six months ago. Durant’s block against James came with only 24.5 seconds left in the game and on top of the block, the ball also went out of bounds of James, who by the way, said he thought he was fouled twice on the play.

The great defensive play by Durant gave the ball right back to the Warriors and he finished the game with 25 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

One huge play that happened before that controversial block was the go ahead three-pointer shot by Klay Thompson with only 1:33 left in the game. At the time the game was tied as the Warriors were about to take the ball then the Cavaliers stupidly left Thompson wide open for the three-pointer. He was open after the first three-pointer was attempted by Durant and the Warriors, Jordan Bell, grabbed the rebound and no one accounted for Thompson.

I do not know how you allow that to happen but I sure am looking forward to the next match up between these two teams, which will most likely look different than on Christmas Day.

Kevin Love was the Cavaliers leading scorer with 31 points and a season best 18 rebounds, while James contributed 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Curry has now missed his eighth straight game due to that right ankle sprain. With the huge three-pointer Thompson hit at the end of the game, he finished with 24 points and the heart of this team, Draymond Green, finished the game with a triple double. He scored 12 points, had 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

It was Golden State’s 12th win in 13 games after their 11-game winning streak was broken by the Denver Nuggets Dec. 23.

It was no surprise the running rivals provided high entertainment once again. The Warriors last June captured a second championship in three years against James and the Cavaliers.

In the Christmas Day match up, Durant requested James for his defensive assignment, to which he clarified that he simply just like guarding his position. The Warriors were almost at full strength, aside from Curry, who could possibly return this week once he goes through some scrimmages at practice.

The Cavaliers’ 31.8 percent shooting was the lowest by a Warriors opponent in nearly four years. This will be a rivalry to look forward to for a long time.

Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at