SAN FRANCISCO (AP)Stephen Curry bounced back from one of the worst shooting nights of his career and scored 23 points, and the Golden State Warriors convincingly ended the Phoenix Suns’ 18-game winning streak with a 118-96 victory.
The Warriors (19-3) limited the Suns (19-4) to a season low for scoring and slipped past Phoenix for the best record in the NBA.
The Suns were within 83-74 following a dunk by JaVale McGee early in the fourth quarter but never got closer. Gary Payton II scored on consecutive possessions, added a breakaway two-handed dunk, then followed with a short jumper to put Golden State ahead by 20.
Three days after going 4 of 21 while missing 11 of 14 3-point tries in a 104-96 loss in Phoenix, Curry shot 8 of 20 with six 3s, five rebounds and five assists. Andrew Wiggins added 19 points as Golden State extended its home winning streak to 11.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Luke Kennard scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and hit two clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes, sending the Los Angeles Clippers to a 119-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Paul George scored 19 points for the Clippers, who never trailed and never pulled away in the city rivals’ first meeting of the season. They played a choppy, chippy game appropriate for two clubs hovering around .500 while dealing with major injury problems that have slowed the development of two rosters harboring NBA title ambitions.
LeBron James had 23 points and 11 rebounds in his first game back from a one-game absence under the NBA’s health and safety protocols. A positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the Lakers’ blowout win over Sacramento on Tuesday, but he received a series of negative subsequent tests that allowed him to play for only the 12th time in the Lakers’ 24 games this season.
Anthony Davis had 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Malik Monk scored all of his 20 points in the second half for the Lakers, who dropped to 12-12.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians would like to see the NFL expand an investigation of the COVID-19 vaccination status of two players on his team to include other rosters around the league.
Responding publicly for the first time to the league suspending wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards for three games for misrepresenting their status with fake vaccination cards, Arians said those may not be the only cases of their kind in the league.
A third player, former Bucs receiver John Franklin III, also was suspended for three games. He was cut during training camp and currently is a free agent.
Arians said the reigning Super Bowl champions have done as good a job as any team managing the coronavirus pandemic the past two seasons. He added the club fully cooperated with the league probe launched last month after a personal chef who once worked for Brown told the Tampa Bay Times that the receiver had obtained a fake vaccination card before reporting to training camp.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) – Quarterback Andy Dalton will be making his second straight start Sunday for the Chicago Bears as a result of Justin Fields’ broken ribs.
The Bears face the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field, and coach Matt Nagy said Fields’ health improved, but not enough to play. Fields is doubtful for the game. Nick Foles will be the backup quarterback behind Dalton. Nagy is hopeful Fields can return soon.
Fields practiced all week but only on a limited basis after missing the 16-14 Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit.
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Devin Lloyd returned an interception for a touchdown, Cam Rising threw for another score and No. 14 Utah clinched the first Rose Bowl berth in school history with a 38-10 victory over No. 10 Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.
This game was a near carbon copy of the one in Salt Lake City two weeks ago when the Utes (10-3, No. 17 CFP) jumped out early and won 38-7.
While that game all but ended the playoff hopes for Oregon (10-3, No. 10), the rematch delivered coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes the Rose Bowl prize they had been seeking since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
It capped an emotional last 12 months for the Utes program that has dealt with the deaths of two players.
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – This holiday event in the Bahamas is taking on a little more meaning for Bryson DeChambeau seeking a small measure of revenge and for Collin Morikawa pursuing a more noble goal of reaching No. 1 in the world.
One week after getting whipped by Brooks Koepka in Las Vegas at their made-for-TV match, DeChambeau made five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn at Albany and overcame a late double bogey from a wild drive for an 8-under 64. That was good for a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the Hero World Challenge.
The group one shot behind included Koepka, of course, who made a 12-foot par putt on the final hole for a second straight 67.
Morikawa made a strong move on the back nine with a birdie-birdie-eagle sequence until falling victim to the tough 18th, playing into a strong breeze. His bogey led to a 66, but he was right where he needed to be. A victory against this 20-man field is the only way Morikawa can reach No. 1 in the world, and only then for a week before Jon Rahm – not playing this week – is projected to return to the top based on the two-year rolling formula.
Not to be overlooked is Tony Finau, who seems to be in the mix most weeks. He made one of only two birdies on the 18th, rolling in a 15-foot putt for a 66 to finish one shot back. Daniel Berger also made birdie on the 18th and was two shots behind.