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The Chicago Bulls’ top two scorers made the difference on Sunday in a 113-108 win over the Denver Nuggets, who could not overcome the absences of injured All-Stars Paul Millsap and Danilo Gallinari.
In Sunday’s other game, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 106-103.
“I don’t think about that as much as I might think about setting a career high,” said Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler, who scored 25 points and hit 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
“Jimmy has had a career year.”
Jimmy Butler was the only Bulls player to score in double figures, but Kemba Walker finished with 23 points, including six of the Charlotte point guard’s nine 3-pointers as the Hornets beat Phoenix 120-101.
Stephen Curry was 4-of-11 from long range and finished with 21 points and seven assists for the Warriors, who lead the Pacific Division and the Clippers are the second seed in the Western Conference.
Sacramento’s Darius Miller, making his NBA debut after being signed on Saturday, played the final two minutes in the Kings’ 109-103 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Marcin Gortat had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns, who lost for the third time in four games.
James Harden had 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 105-96 to start a four-game road trip.
Elfrid Payton led the Magic with 23 points and eight assists and Orlando rallied from a 15-point deficit.
Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins had 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Ricky Rubio scored 14 points and had 12 assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Detroit Pistons 100-83.
Chase Budinger hit a career-high five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points and Kevin Martin scored 15 points in his first game with the Timberwolves, who played without first-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns (Achilles tendon) and reserve power forward Gorgui Dieng (hamstring).
John Wall had 25 points and 10 assists as the Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 110-94.
Washington won for the 11th time in 14 games, while the Knicks were swept in three games by the Wizards.
“It was a bad performance,” said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.
“We got dominated on the glass and that hurt us.”
The Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 104-92 as the Hornets lost their first game after sweeping the Atlanta Hawks in their first-round series.
Jae Crowder scored 23 points for the Celtics. Kemba Walker scored 28 points and Cody Zeller had 17 for the Hornets.
The Memphis Grizzlies thumped the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-84.
Cody Zeller scored 17 points for the host Grizzlies, who handed Oklahoma City their fifth straight loss.
Mike Conley scored 24 points as the Atlanta Hawks shut down Kyle Lowry and posted a 102-82 home win over the Toronto Raptors.
The Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 105-93.
All-Star forward Blake Griffin scored a season-high 39 points and added 10 rebounds and seven assists in the Clippers’ loss.
The San Antonio Spurs remained perfect at home, beating the Utah Jazz 110-102.
Tony Parker scored 22 points and Danny Green had 20 for the Spurs, who have won 14 consecutive games at home.
For the last game before their bye week, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 106-104.
O.J. Mayo scored 28 points and Ersan Ilyasova added 16 as the Philadelphia 76ers topped the Phoenix Suns 106-104.
PJ Tucker had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Devin Booker scored 22 points and Tyler Ulis made the go-ahead free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining, but the San Antonio Spurs beat the Utah Jazz 110-102.