DALLAS (AP) – Chicago completed a Texas two-step by winning a hard-fought game 102-98 at Dallas on Friday, a day after handing San Antonio a heavy defeat.
The Bulls maintained their 4-1/2 game lead in the NBA Central Division but could make up no ground on runaway Eastern Conference leader Atlanta, which notched its 15th straight win by defeating Oklahoma City.
Among the Western Conference contenders, Houston edged Phoenix to close within a game of the Southwest Division lead, while overall league leader Golden State smashed Sacramento, with Klay Thompson scoring a record 37 points in the third quarter.
Chicago’s Derrick Rose scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler had 14 of his 20 in the second half to guide the Bulls to another impressive road victory which suggested the team was over a sticky patch that saw them lose six in eight.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points to lead the Mavericks, which missed a chance to go into a virtual tie for the Southwest lead.
Atlanta put in another even team scoring performance to beat Oklahoma City 103-93 and stretch their remarkable winning streak.
Paul Millsap scored 22 points and Jeff Teague added 17 for the Hawks, whose streak is the longest in franchise history.
Four starters were in double figures and backup point guard Dennis Schroder led a spurt at the start of the fourth quarter that helped the Hawks pull away.
Russell Westbrook’s 22 points led the Thunder, who were ahead until just before halftime.
Houston’s James Harden scored 33 points, including a 20-foot jumper as time ran out which sealed a 113-111 win against Phoenix.
Harden’s 33 points came in the absence of injured star center Dwight Howard for three quarters.
Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer entering the night at 27.2 points per game, added 10 assists and six rebounds and made 14 of 17 free throw attempts.
Eric Bledsoe had 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists to lead the Suns,
Golden State’s Klay Thompson set an NBA record for most individual points in a quarter as he tallied 37 to help the Warriors cruise past Sacramento 126-101.
Thompson, who finished with a career-high 52 points, made all 13 shots in the third quarter, including a league-record nine from 3-point range, and hit both of his free throws during a 12-minute span.
His streaky shooting touch helped the Warriors overcome an otherwise sloppy showing for its franchise-best 18th consecutive home victory. Golden State (35-6) became the 10th NBA team to win at least 35 games halfway through a season.