Damian Lillard made up for the absence of fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge by scoring 31 points in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 100-95 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
Lillard scored 12 in the third quarter when it looked as if the Blazers were headed for a blowout win, but he saved his biggest shots for late in the fourth after the Nuggets had trimmed an 18-point deficit to two.
Lillard helped Portland overcome a terrific performance by Denver’s J.J. Hickson, who pulled down a career-high 25 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive side. Hickson led the Nuggets to a 64-41 advantage on the glass.
Aldridge missed his fourth straight game with a strained left groin.
The Blazers had six players score in double figures, including Nicolas Batum’s 16 points.
Randy Foye led Denver with 17 points.
Denver were again without Ty Lawson, who leads the Nuggets with averages of 18 points and 8.8 assists.
He has missed seven straight games with a broken rib.
ROCKETS 129, KINGS 103
James Harden scored a season-high 43 points before resting for all of the fourth quarter, as the Rockets routed the Kings.
Harden helped Houston go ahead by 25 points in the first quarter, 31 in the second and 33 in the third. He shot 11 of 20 from the floor, made 15 of 16 free throws and added eight assists, three steals and two rebounds.
Dwight Howard left briefly after banging his right knee, but returned to finish with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Chandler Parsons had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who have won 10 of their past 11 games.
DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and six rebounds for the Kings before getting ejected for vehemently arguing with an official in the third quarter.
He picked up his NBA-leading 14th and 15th technical fouls.
PACERS 118, LAKERS 98
Paul George scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, and Evan Turner had 13 points in his Pacers debut as Indiana improved their league-leading record to 43-13.
Kent Bazemore finished with a career-high 23 points and Jodie Meeks added 15 for the Lakers (19-38), who have the worst record in the West. The loss also ended Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Lakers were closer than expected in the first two quarters and trailed 59-58 early in the third.
George then scored 10 points in a decisive 14-5 spurt that gave Indiana an 80-68 lead with 2 minutes, 58 seconds to go in the period.
George had seven rebounds and six assists despite spending the entire fourth quarter on the bench with most of Indiana’s starters.
BULLS 107, HAWKS 103
Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points and Joakim Noah had 20 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Bulls hold on for the road win.
Carlos Boozer had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, while Kirk Hinrich scored 14 points, including six free throws in the final 44 seconds. The Bulls have won six of seven.
Jeff Teague had 26 points, but made two costly turnovers late in the game for the Hawks, who have lost nine of 10. Shelvin Mack had 17 points.
The Bulls led most of the second half, but never pushed the advantage to double figures.
With 43.2 seconds remaining, officials reviewed and confirmed a questionable foul called on DeMarre Carroll on Hinrich’s three-point attempt. Hinrich made the three free throws to give Chicago a 104-103 lead.
TIMBERWOLVES 110, SUNS 101