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It might not have been the way that the NBA and its fans envisioned the Christmas Day schedule playing out but, despite the noticeable absences, there was plenty of exciting basketball played on Saturday throughout the league's five-game slate. In the end, it was the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz that came away with Christmas Day victories but there were plenty of spectacular individual performances as well.

LeBron James became the league's all-time leading scorer on Christmas Day passing Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant for the top spot on that particular list. Kemba Walker and James Harden both recorded triple-doubles for their respective teams in wins for New York and Brooklyn. Giannis Antetokounmpo announced his return to the Bucks in a big way after clearing the league's health and safety protocols. Finally, Donovan Mitchell helped Utah overcome an early deficit to take down the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks.

Here are five key takeaways from the Christmas Day slate.

1. LeBron passes Kobe on Christmas Day scoring list

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James made some holiday history on Saturday. With his point production against the Brooklyn Nets, James passed Kobe Bryant to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer on Christmas.

Bryant scored 395 total points in 16 career Christmas games. Entering Saturday's contest, James needed just 13 points to pass the Lakers legend, and he officially eclipsed Bryant with a pair of free throws late in the second quarter.

Saturday's matchup marked the 16th time that James has played on Christmas Day, which ties him with Bryant for the most all-time. During those games, the star forward has put together averages of 25.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.1 assists while shooting 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.

2. Kemba continues to shine bright for Knicks

Kemba Walker recorded the seventh Christmas triple-double in NBA history and first for a Knick. (This was New York's 54th Christmas game, a league-high.) He didn't shoot particularly well (3 for 12 overall, 2 for 9 from deep) but, outside of Randle, did the lion's share of the playmaking, with Derrick Rose recovering from ankle surgery, Immanuel Quickley reconditioning after a stint in the health and safety protocols and Miles McBride still in protocols. When Walker checked out after playing 40 minutes, the Madison Square Garden crowd stood up and chanted his name.

This follows Walker's 44-point performance against the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Walker did not play a single minute in between Nov. 26 and Dec. 18.

3. Giannis dominates in return

The Bucks have been without their leading man for the past five games due to being in the league's COVID-19 protocols, but after being cleared on Christmas Eve, Giannis made a splash in his return to the lineup. Not only did he lead all scorers with 36 points, but he absolutely dominated the second half and helped lead the Bucks to a comeback win over the Celtics. It wasn't easy, especially as Boston's defense tried to do everything in its power to try and contain Antetokounmpo. It worked in the first half, as the Greek Freak had just seven points through two quarters while going just 3 of 8 from the field.

The Celtics did a great job of sending two defenders at him as he came downhill toward the basket, and making it difficult for him to get shots up as they tried to swat the ball from his hands before he had enough time to go into a euro step. But then the second half happened, and Antetokounmpo settled into the game and began to take over. 

4. Curry, Porter come up clutch for Warriors in win over Suns

It speaks to Curry's impact that he can shoot that poorly and still end up a plus-24 for the game. His 33 points were his career-high on Christmas.

I love that he offset his shooting struggles by attacking off the dribble. He has struggled to finish in the paint this year; he was better on Saturday, and he got himself to the free-throw line nine times, hitting eight. Curry is taking more 3-pointers than he has at any point in his career, but it behooves him not to forget about the other two levels of scoring, if for rhythm purposes only.

As the Suns employed the familiar defensive strategy of selling out to contain Curry, Otto Porter, who is looking like one of the league's better low-level offseason pickups (he's on a minimum contract), put the finishing touches on this win for the Warriors, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including 10 in the final five minutes and the game's final seven points.  

5. Rough night for Russ

One star that didn't quite live up to his billing was Russell Westbrook. The box score will tell you he had a triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), which may seem like a good game until you realize he was 4-for-20 from the field and finished as a team-worst minus-23. He also failed to finish several chances around the rim, including a devastating missed dunk that would have brought the Lakers within a point with 26 seconds remaining.

With LeBron dominant and Carmelo Anthony stuffing the stat sheet (17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks, two steals), the Lakers basically needed an average game from Westbrook on the offensive end, and they just didn't get it. Credit to Westbrook for not letting his poor shooting night impact his effort -- he led the team with five offensive rebounds that created some of the Lakers' 20 second-chance points, but he's just going to have to perform better with Davis out of the lineup if the Lakers are going to put some wins together.