The Los Angeles Clippers capitalized on a slew of Houston turnovers to beat the Rockets 101-93 on Wednesday and open a four-game lead at the top of the Pacific Division.
While the Clippers were continuing their run of strong results against fellow title contenders, Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City lost their third straight game since the All-Star break, going down to lowly Cleveland.
Los Angeles’ nearest divisional rivals Golden State also lost, suffering a heavy defeat against Chicago, while the other top teams in the West — Portland and San Antonio — beat Brooklyn and Detroit respectively.
Los Angeles’ Blake Griffin had 23 points and 16 rebounds, while reserve Darren Collison scored seven of his 19 points in the final 2 minutes, 9 seconds for the Clippers, who converted 20 Houston turnovers into 30 points.
Dwight Howard had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who dropped 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cavaliers to a surprising 114-104 win over the suddenly struggling Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jarrett Jack scored 21 points for Cleveland, who shot 14 for 21 from the field in the fourth quarter and ended a run of three straight losses.
Kevin Durant had 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder, who have appeared unbalanced since Russell Westbrook returned from knee surgery, losing all three games.
The Chicago Bulls made it seven wins from eight games by producing a third-quarter surge that set up a 103-83 win against the Golden State Warriors.
Taj Gibson scored 21 points, while Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who dominated rebounds 56-41 and forced 16 turnovers.
Jordan Crawford scored 16 points for the Warriors, who got only five points from Stephen Curry, matching a season low.
The undermanned Portland Trail Blazers trounced the Brooklyn Nets 124-80, with bench player Will Barton having a season-high 20 points and career-high 11 rebounds.
The Trail Blazers won their fourth straight game, despite missing forward LaMarcus Aldridge for the fifth straight game with a groin strain.
Deron Williams had 12 points for the Nets, who had their lowest points total this season.
Mo Williams scored 21 points to lead seven Portland players in double figures.
The San Antonio Spurs spread the load even better, with eight players reaching double figures in a 120-110 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Marco Belinelli had 20 points and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points on his return from a 14-game absence due to a broken finger.
Josh Smith scored 24 points for Detroit, which have lost three straight.
Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki shook off an early shoulder problem to finish with 18 points in the Mavericks’ 108-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Utah Jazz cruised to a 109-86 win over the slumping Phoenix Suns, with Gordon Hayward having 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
The Memphis Grizzlies held on against Los Angeles’ seven fourth-quarter three-pointers, beating the Lakers 108-103, with Courtney Lee scoring 18 points.
The Boston Celtics ended a run of five straight losses by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 115-104, as Jerryd Bayless scored a season-high 29 points in a rare start.
The Orlando Magic ended a run of 16 successive road losses by beating hapless Philadelphia 101-90, meaning the 76ers end the month with a 0-11 record.