Clippers 130, Bulls 127
Freed from the pesky mask he'd been wearing on court for two weeks, Kawhi Leonard cut loose. Getting a steal and a dunk, hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
He finished with a season-high 35 points, going over 10,000 in his career, and the Clippers rallied to beat Chicago on Sunday.
“It's a steppingstone, but I don't really care about it,” Leonard said of his milestone. “Maybe when I retire I’ll sit back and look at the accomplishments. Right now, it’s about being greedy and wanting more.”
Leonard reached the 10,000 plateau on one of his five 3-pointers in the third quarter, when he scored 21 points. His points and 3-pointers made were the most in a single quarter in his career.
“He understood how they were guarding him, and he took advantage of it,” teammate Paul George said. “He was hot, so we definitely kept finding him.”
Leonard's last 3-pointer in the quarter gave the Clippers their first lead since they scored the game's first basket. In all, he had seven 3-pointers, tying his career high.
“We needed every bit of it,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.
Leonard had 12 points in the first half, when the Clippers trailed by seven at the break. He got a steal and dunk for his first points of the third, then made five straight 3-pointers before closing out his explosive quarter with a pair of baskets, the last of which tied the game at 87.
For the first time in two weeks, Leonard no longer needs the on-court mask he wore strapped around his head to protect eight stitches in his mouth. He got hit by teammate Serge Ibaka's elbow at Denver on Christmas.
George had 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season. Lou Williams added 21 points off the bench.
Zach LaVine led six Bulls in double figures with a season-high 45 points — four off his career high — and he made a season-best 10 3-pointers. Garrett Temple added 18 points and Patrick Williams had 17 points. Coby White had a career-high 13 assists. Chicago dropped its third in a row for the first time since starting the season 0-3.
“We were frustrated we kept letting him (LaVine) get looks that he liked,” George said, “but at our end we were happy and excited that Kawhi had it going.”
The Bulls shot 61% from the floor and 55% from 3-point range.
The Clippers chased the Bulls through the first three quarters, falling behind by 13. Lou Williams' basket tied the game at 94 heading into the fourth.
Los Angeles led by six in the fourth before Temple's three-point play put the Bulls ahead 119-118. Nicolas Batum hit a 3-pointer in front of the Clippers' bench with Thaddeus Young in his face, got fouled and made the free throw, launching an 8-0 run that gave Los Angeles a 126-119 lead.
LaVine had a three-point play and a 3-pointer over Marcus Morris Sr. to pull the Bulls to 126-125.
White got called for his fourth foul, putting George at the line. He made both for a 128-125 lead.
LaVine airballed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with six seconds to go.
“I got ten 3s. I’m going to come down and try to make a play,” he said. “I got a clean look. I just didn’t get legs on it.”
LaVine got called for his fourth foul and George made both free throws for a 130-125 lead. Temple's late basket closed the scoring for Chicago.
Lakers 120, Rockets 102
Anthony Davis had 27 points, LeBron James added 18 and Los Angeles won for the sixth time in seven games with a victory over Houston.
It was a testy game that included five technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and the first-half ejections of Markieff Morris and DeMarcus Cousins.
Davis, who sat out on Friday with a groin strain, helped the Lakers finish with 62 points in the paint in a game in which they led by as many as 27.
Christian Wood scored 23 points and James Harden had 20 in the first of two straight games against the Lakers with the second one coming Tuesday night in Houston.
Warriors 106, Raptors 105
Damion Lee converted the tying and go-ahead free throws with 3.3 seconds left and Golden State withstood a rough fourth quarter to hold off Toronto despite uncharacteristic struggles by Stephen Curry.
Pascal Siakam missed a jumper as the buzzer sounded but finished with 25 points, and Fred VanVleet scored 21 for Toronto in a rematch of the 2019 NBA Finals won in six games by the Raptors.
Andrew Wiggins had 17 points and matched his career high with four blocked shots as Golden State nearly squandered away a game it led by 17.
Curry shot 2 of 16 and missed nine of his 10 3s for 11 points after scoring 143 over his previous four games, including a career-high 62 one week earlier against Portland.
Jazz 96, Pistons 86
Donovan Mitchell scored 13 of his 28 points in a decisive first quarter, and Utah held on for a victory over Detroit.
The Pistons were coming off an overtime win over Phoenix on Friday night in which they rallied from a 23-point deficit, but they couldn’t climb out of another big hole. Utah scored the game’s first nine points and never trailed. The Jazz went on a 17-0 run later in the first, pushing their lead to 20 before the quarter was over.
Jerami Grant scored 28 points for the Pistons, who cut the deficit to six late in the third quarter. They had the ball down five late in the fourth, but Rudy Gobert blocked a shot by Mason Plumlee, and Mike Conley made two free throws to make it 93-86 with 1:00 remaining.
Conley finished with 22 points.
Timberwolves 96, Spurs 88
D’Angelo Russell had 27 points, five rebounds and five assists as Minnesota snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Russell scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer to tie the score with 7:02 left and two free throws to ice it with 31.5 seconds remaining. Russell and Malik Beasley, who added 24 points, helped the Wolves get their first win since Dec. 26.
Minnesota was playing without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who returned to action Saturday after missing six games with a partial dislocation of his left wrist. Sunday’s absence was part of the plan to ease Towns back in and not a result of any reaggravation of his injury.