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The ghost of Christmas Day games past: A look back at almost a decade of Thunder matchups

For almost a decade, Thunder fans could turn on their TVs on Christmas Day and find their team in a marquee matchup.

Not anymore. For the first time since 2009, OKC is absent from the NBA Christmas Day lineup. Instead, rivalries like Clippers vs. Lakers and Rockets vs. Warriors (Steph Curry hadn't yet broken his hand when the schedule was made) showcase the Western Conference on Wednesday.

But it was an exciting run while it lasted. The Thunder has traditionally played well on Christmas, garnering a 6-3 record. OKC was initiated into the Christmas Day tradition in 2010, after the Thunder’s first playoff appearance in the Oklahoma City era.

The next year, because of the 2011 NBA lockout, Christmas Day doubled as opening day. And the Thunder kicked off the regular season with a victory over Orlando. In fact, OKC would win 12 of its first 14 games, on its away to a 47-win regular season and a trip to the NBA Finals.

Even the Thunder’s first Christmas Day loss, in 2012, was exciting. OKC played the Heat, after losing to Miami in the NBA finals the season before. On Christmas, the Thunder trailed the Heat by just one point with 18 seconds to go. But former SuperSonics star Ray Allen scored three of Miami’s last five points to boost the LeBron James-led Heat over the youthful Thunder.

The 2014 Christmas Day Game set up a Western Conference Finals rematch between the Thunder and Spurs. Months earlier, San Antonio had eliminated OKC from the playoffs in six games. On Christmas, the Thunder beat the Spurs 114-106.

Most recently, the Thunder and Rockets faced off in consecutive years, splitting the Christmas Day series, 1-1.

Thunder Christmas Day Games

2010 – Thunder 114, Nuggets 106

2011 – Thunder 97, Magic 89

2012 – Heat 103, Thunder 97

2013 – Thunder 123, Knicks 94

2014 – Thunder 114, Spurs 106

2015 – Bulls 105, Thunder 95

2016 – Thunder 112, Timberwolves 100

2017 – Thunder 112, Rockets 107

2018 – Rockets 113, Thunder 109

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (11) wears socks with a Christmas sweater pattern during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (11) wears socks with a Christmas sweater pattern during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-bcc1ad58dc1b11508362a4726bfb4a0d.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (11) wears socks with a Christmas sweater pattern during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman" title="Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (11) wears socks with a Christmas sweater pattern during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (11) wears socks with a Christmas sweater pattern during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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