Bulls drop Cavs; LBJ tops Shaq
Nikola Mirotic tied season highs with 28 points and six 3-pointers, Jimmy Butler scored 25, and the Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-93, last night in Chicago as LeBron James moved into seventh place on the NBA’s career scoring list.
James moved past Shaquille O’Neal, finishing with 26 points and giving him 28,599 for his career — three more than O’Neal. But the big night by the four-time MVP couldn’t prevent the Cavaliers from matching a season high with their third straight loss, and dropping a half-game behind the Celtics for the Eastern Conference lead.
Rajon Rondo added 15 assists, Robin Lopez had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and the ninth-place Bulls moved within a game of Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 for the Cavaliers, while Tristan Thompson added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Pistons 90, Nets 89 — Marcus Morris had 28 points and 13 rebounds, and Ish Smith hit the go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, helping Detroit edge Brooklyn in Auburn Hills, Mich., to keep its dwindling playoff hopes alive.
Smith, who finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, gave the Pistons an 87-86 lead with 28.5 seconds left. Brook Lopez missed a 3-pointer on the Nets’ ensuing possession, and Detroit sealed it at the free throw line.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 15 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jeremy Lin each had 14 points for the Nets. Lopez added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Timberwolves 119, Lakers 104 — In Minneapolis, Ricky Rubio had a career-high 33 points, 10 assists and five rebounds and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points to lead Minnesota over Los Angeles.
Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points for the Timberwolves, who have now won more games than they did last season. Minnesota had 30 assists and only 11 turnovers.
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points and D’Angelo Russell had 14 points and seven assists for the Lakers, who have lost 17 of their last 19 games. Clippers 124, Suns 118 — Blake Griffin scored 31 points, Chris Paul added 29 points and 10 assists and Los Angeles held on to hand host Phoenix its 10th loss in a row, and pull within a game of fourth place Utah in the West.
Devin Booker, playing in front of his former college coach, Kentucky’s John Calipari, posted 33 points and nine assists for the Suns but fouled out with 4:45 to play. Trail Blazers 117, Rockets 107 — Damian Lillard had 31 points and 11 assists, leading host Portland past Houston to push their win streak to a season-high five.
Jusuf Nurkic had a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with 19 points for the Trail Blazers, who now have a 1.5-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the eighth seed in the West.
James Harden finished with 30 points and eight rebounds to lead the Rockets. Elsewhere in the NBA — The Indiana Pacers are bringing back Lance Stephenson.
More than two years after the brash 6-foot-5 guard left in free agency, the Pacers re-signed Stephenson — just in time to fill a gaping hole as they try to make a final playoff push. Stephenson is expected to make his first game appearance Sunday at Cleveland.