X-Mas Spirit Short-Lived as Dirty Plays Take Center Stage Wednesday Night

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X-Mas Spirit Short-Lived as Dirty Plays Take Center Stage Wednesday Night
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NBA's 2012 Christmas Day offering gave basketball fans a slew of highly competitive, spirited contests among the league's elites.

The mesmerized sports world buzzed on December 26. The opportunity to see that many championship contenders squaring off against each other was one that did not go unnoticed by casual fans and hoop junkies alike.

With 13 games on the docket (only 12 were played with the Indiana Pacers-Chicago Bulls meeting postponed due to inclement Indiana weather), the league hoped to capitalize on the interest drummed up during the holiday season.

But any lingering positive vibes didn't quite make it 24 hours. Not on the NBA hardwood at least.

While the general population recovered from an overindulgence of holiday feasts, professional hoopers returned to the floor with a certain chippiness typically reserved for playoff basketball.

Dwyane Wade opened the festivities with a shot to Ramon Sessions' groin that even DeMarcus Cousins would frown upon.

The intent of Wade's actions wasn't questioned by Sessions:

Or by his Charlotte Bobcat teammates:

Never one to cast a stone, I'll let you be the judge.

Unfortunately for the league, though, Wade was only the opening act for the night's series of questionable moves.

Next up was New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith.

Although he avoided the all-too-popular, cringe-worthy groin shot, this play on Goran Dragic may have been the most dangerous of the night.

Not to be outdone, Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard got in the mix later on in the night in Denver.

Nearly three quarters into yet another frustrating game, Howard let his emotions take over.

And not in the way that Lakers fans had hoped:

It didn't have the are-you-kidding-me factor of Wade's play, nor the danger factor of Smith's, but Howard's decision was equally indefensible.

Even the Golden State Warriors continued their unlikely pursuit of the NBA elites.

Midway through the second quarter of their game with the Utah Jazz, Utah big man Enes Kanter shoved Golden State's Carl Landry. Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack headed straight for Kanter, but was met by a shove from Derrick Favors:

It wasn't an egregious encounter—certainly not by the night's standards—but it was yet another reminder that the Christmas season ends at 12:01 a.m. on December 26.

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