About Last Night

About Last Night: Giannis vows vengeance against Hezonja

Pistons spoil Curry's return to Warriors' lineup; Hayward has best game since joining Celtics

Lonny Krasnow, NBA.com

Mario Hezonja might want to steer clear of Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Bucks return to Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day.

Early in the first quarter of the Knicks’ 136-134 overtime victory, Hezonja stole a pass and raced down the court on a solo fast break. Antetokounmpo couldn’t quite pull off the chasedown block as Hezonja euro-stepped past Khris Middleton and threw down a nice jam.

There was plenty of contact but no foul called, with Antetokounmpo going to the court in the aftermath. As Antetokounmpo gathered himself, Hezonja purposefully stepped over Antetokounmpo’s legs on his way to the other end of the court, reminiscent of Allen Iverson in the 2001 Finals.

When asked if he was bothered by the play, Antetokounmpo said, “Oh, yeah,” and continued to say he would punch Hezonja where it hurts next time.

Antetokounmpo, who finished with 33 points and 19 rebounds, responded minutes later with an emphatic dunk of his own and screamed as he brushed past Knicks forward Noah Vonleh on his way to the Bucks huddle.

How many days until Christmas?

Pistons spoil Curry’s return

Stephen Curry returned after missing 11 games with a groin strain, but the Warriors’ road woes continued.

Curry showed some rust, missing seven of his first 10 shots, before heating up in the second half. He finished with 27 points in 37 minutes on 10-of-21 shooting.

The Warriors, now riding a six-game road losing streak after the 111-102 loss in Detroit, keep losing the battle underneath. The Pistons had six more points in the paint and 12 more second-chance points.

Steve Kerr blamed himself for the defeat, which saw the Pistons finish with 12 3-pointers and 14 offensive rebounds to Golden State’s six and eight, respectively.

Hayward’s best game as Celtic

Questions have surrounded Gordon Hayward ever since he suffered a gruesome ankle injury last October.

On Saturday night, Hayward showed everyone he can still play an elite level, collecting 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the Celtics’ 118-109 victory over the Timberwolves.

Playing more aggressively than we’ve seen all season, Hayward scored 11 of Boston’s final 15 points over the last 3 1/2 minutes of the game and made four of five shots from 3-point range.

“That’s got to be a mindset of mine, looking to get to the rim a little more,” said Hayward. “I was rewarded for that a little bit tonight with some free throws.”

Can we call this the night Hayward finally returned to his pre-injury All-Star form? His teammates thought the occasion was worth celebrating …

Rockets honor and remember Bush

The Rockets held a moment of silence and showed a video in honor of George H.W. Bush, who long had a relationship with the Rockets and several former players, including Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo.

Bogdanovic vs. Bogdanovic

Throw out the records when the Bogdanovic brothers get together.

Actually, they’re not related. They’re not even from the same country.

Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 20 points off the bench, while Bojan Bogdanovic had a season-high 27 for Indiana in the Kings’ 111-110 victory over the Pacers.

The game featured 25 lead changes and was decided by Willie Cauley-Stein’s putback with 16.1 seconds left.

In a postgame interview, Bogdan discussed the wild finish and even acknowledged the difficulty announcers must encounter when both Bogdanovics are on the court.

Quote of the night

“I didn’t miss him at all. Any time I can get extra minutes, and extra shots up, I’m happy.”

– Fred VanVleet, joking about Kyle Lowry being a late scratch

Stat of the night

Hayward is the first NBA player to come off the bench and register 30+ points, 9+ rebounds and 8+ assists in a game since Detlef Schrempf on Feb. 13, 1993