It turns out, the best NBA games were not wrapped up for Christmas Day this year. The earlier part of the month was filled with thrilling overtime victories, a handful of triple-doubles, standout rookie performances, and clutch three pointers. Many fans who attended NBA games in December got a lot more than the price of their ticket suggested. For an average price of $36, Sixers fans witnessed the first game in NBA history to feature two rookies with triple-doubles in an exhilarating win at home against the Magic. For a buck less, Bobcats fans were gifted with a second half shootout between Kemba Walker and Stephen Curry six nights later. It’s tough to get into any NBA game for that price tag, let alone experience one of the best games of the year.
We take a look at December’s top NBA games after the jump.
12/2: Pelicans at Bulls
When the Pelicans and Bulls met in Chicago on December 2, fans at the United Center may not have been as excited as usual. Derrick Rose had recently been declared out for the season, and the Pelicans best player and native Chicagoan Anthony Davis was out of the game with a broken hand. But what ensued was a classic game with big time performances that kept the arena rocking late into the night. The triple overtime thriller featured a 36 point performance from Ryan Anderson, a 37 point performance from Luol Deng, a shootout between Anderson (7 threes) and Mike Dunleavy (6 threes), 5 double-doubles and a game winning three-point play from Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans won the game 131-128 making it the highest scoring game of the season so far.
12/3: Magic at 76ers
This December 3rd showdown was a game for any fan who questioned the talent in the 2013 NBA Draft Class. Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams both had triple-doubles, making this the first game to feature two rookies with triple-doubles in NBA history. Oladipo had 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists and Carter-Williams had 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists as the 76ers prevailed in double overtime. The Sixers also overcame a 43 point performance from Aaron Afflalo and a 33 point outburst from Glen Davis who tied the game late in regulation with his first three pointer of the year. Carter-Williams got his tenth assist late in the second overtime on a pass to Thaddeus Young to help seal the game as the Sixers pulled out a 126-125 win in front of their home crowd.
12/7: Mavericks at Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers’ fans have been treated to quite a show this year with a number of tight finishes going their way (thank you Damian Lillard), but on December 7th Monta Ellis and the Mavericks had other plans. Ellis hit a twenty-foot jumper as time expired to lift the Mavericks past the Blazers 108-106 at the Moda Center. The Blazers tried furiously to take the lead in the final minutes as Dirk Nowitzki, Nicolas Batum, Ellis and Lillard made clutch shot after clutch shot until a Lillard three tied the score at 106 with 1.9 seconds left. That set the stage for Ellis’s game winner which resulted in the Blazers second home loss of the season.
12/9: Warriors at Bobcats
Kemba Walker has had a huge December including a buzzer beater against the Toronto Raptors, but his best half of basketball came on December 9th at home against the Warriors. After a relatively calm first half, Walker and Stephen Curry had a shootout for the ages in the second. Curry scored 32 points after halftime in route to his season high 43, but Walker matched him with 27 points of his own in the second half. Down 53-41 after two quarters, the Warriors scored 70 in the second half as Curry tried relentlessly to bring the Warriors back. He had 19 points in the 4th quarter alone and made a long three right over Walker to cut the lead to 2 points with 11 seconds left. Walker was clutch in the final seconds making four free throws in four attempts and insuring that the Bobcats came away with the 115-111 victory.
12/17: Trail Blazers at Cavaliers
This game was billed as a match-up of two of the best young point guards in the NBA and it didn’t disappoint. Kyrie Irving had a stellar game scoring 25 points and dishing out 10 assists for the Cavs. Unfortunately for fans at Quicken Loans Arena Damian Lillard scored 36 points to go with 10 assists including a game winning three-point basket from the suburbs at the buzzer. The shot was Lillard’s eighth three pointer of the night and spoiled a valiant comeback effort by Irving who scored nine straight down the stretch then made a great play to find Anderson Varejao open for the game tying layup with 7.1 seconds on the clock. Lillard’s second game winner in three nights broke the tie and the Blazers came away with the 119-116 victory.
One of the best games this year so far if not the best. Cavs vs Blazers
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 18, 2013
12/18: Pacers at Heat
The game between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers at the American Airlines arena was supposed to be one of the best games of December and it didn’t disappoint. For the majority of the game the Pacers showed why they have the potential to win the East. Paul George proved he should be a favorite for MVP, scoring 25 points to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. David West continued to give Miami fits and the Heat were visibly frustrated well into the third quarter. But they turned it on with a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter that helped them to a 97-94 victory. Dwayne Wade finished with 32 points and LeBron shook off an ankle injury to score 24 points, grab 9 rebounds and dish out 7 assists. The game got a big TV rating and is likely everyone’s dream matchup for the Eastern Conference Finals.
12/22: Timberwolves at Clippers
This game between two of the NBA’s best young power forwards did not disappoint fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this past weekend. Kevin Love had one of the best lines of the season by tallying 45 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists. But his counterpart Blake Griffin showed up too with 32 points, 10 boards and 4 steals to help lead his Clippers to an overtime victory. The game was close throughout as neither team could finish a quarter with more than a two point lead. In overtime a clutch three by Jared Dudley and some timely free throw shooting by Chris Paul turned out to be the difference and the Clippers won 120-116.
12/23: Hawks at Heat
After a 27 foot three from Kyle Korver the Miami heat found themselves down 7 points to the Hawks at home with a minute and a half remaining. They turned to LeBron and he answered with two threes. With 20 seconds left they were still down three when LeBron submitted a dunk of the year candidate by jumping over Paul Milsap to cut the lead to one. On the next possession he found Ray Allen open outside the three-point line where he was fouled with 8 seconds left. The veteran calmly sunk all three free throws sending the game to overtime. In OT the Heat scored the games final 5 points to win the high-scoring affair 121-119. LeBron finished with a monster line: 38 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
The chart below shows the average price (one week prior) to each of our top games this month. In every case fans got their money’s worth.
|2-Dec||Chicago Bulls||New Orleans Pelicans||$99.63|
|3-Dec||Philadelphia 76ers||Orlando Magic||$35.61|
|7-Dec||Portland Trail Blazers||Dallas Mavericks||$113.05|
|9-Dec||Charlotte Bobcats||Golden State Warriors||$34.97|
|17-Dec||Cleveland Cavaliers||Portland Trail Blazers||$58.11|
|18-Dec||Miami Heat||Indiana Pacers||$311.89|
|22-Dec||Los Angeles Clippers||Minnesota Timberwolves||$115.07|
|23-Dec||Miami Heat||Atlanta Hawks||$486.03|
Photo Credit: David Banks (Getty Images)