Howard dunks for 
Christmas respect

As usual, basketball lovers will be treated to prime match-ups this Christmas.

On Wednesday, Dec. 25, the NBA takes center stage with five star-studded contests. The Christmas Day action starts at noon on ESPN as the Chicago Bulls face Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets. ABC will show Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder facing Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at 2:30 p.m. before LeBron James and the Miami Heat tangle with the Los Angeles Lakers at 5 p.m.

ESPN finishes the day with a double-header as Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets challenge Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m. with Cliff Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers battling Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Most of those contests look one-sided on paper and have little impact on the standings. Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls have more healthy players than the Nets. Durant leads a dynamic offense few teams can stop and the Heat have the momentum the Lakers lack with Kobe Bryant sidelined again with injury. The drama should come late as all four teams are division rivals playing winning basketball. Howard’s effectiveness in the post and Blake Griffin’s Clipper contributions should make the difference in both games.