Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Bulls shake off form wobble to trounce Spurs, extend lead

AP and Reuters, CHICAGO

The Chicago Bulls shook off their poor recent form with an authoritative 104-81 win against NBA champions San Antonio on Thursday, building their lead in the Central Division, while handing the Spurs their heaviest loss of the season.

As convincing as the Bulls’ victory was, it was put in the shade by the Los Angeles Clippers 39-point win over a disappointing Brooklyn Nets, while the day’s other games saw the Boston Celtics and the Utah Jazz record narrow victories over the Portland Trail Blazers and the Milwaukee Bucks respectively.

Chicago built their Central to 4.5 games by cruising past the Spurs.

Derrick Rose scored 22 points, hitting nine of 16 shots, to lead six Chicago players in double figures, including Pau Gasol, who had 12 points and 17 rebounds.

The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard scored all of his team-leading 16 points in the first half, but as he fell away so did his team as Chicago outscored their opponents 31-20 in the third quarter.

The Clippers recorded their biggest-ever win over Brooklyn, taking the game 123-84.

Blake Griffin scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half when the Clippers led by 33 points, while J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford added 17 points each.

With Kevin Garnett resting, the Nets were led by Mason Plumlee with 16 points.

The Clippers put the game away in the first half when they shot 66 percent and DeAndre Jordan had already secured a double-double.

Boston’s Evan Turner hit a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to give the Celtics a 90-89 win against a Portland team missing LaMarcus Aldridge, who is set to miss six to eight weeks with a torn thumb ligament.

Utah’s Gordon Hayward scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz held on for the 101-89 win after the Bucks missed their final five shots.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers said on Thursday that five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff, according to preliminary results of an MRI scan.

Bryant, who hurt his right shoulder on a dunk in the second half of Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, was to return to Los Angeles and be examined by team doctors yesterday, the team said in a statement.

The high-scoring guard missed yesterday’s game against the Spurs and the rest of his season could be in jeopardy depending on the severity of the tear.

Asked on Thursday before results of the MRI were known if an injury might encourage the team to shut Bryant down for the rest of the season, coach Byron Scott said a lot depended on how Bryant felt.

“He knows his body pretty well,” Scott told the Orange County Register. “He’s probably one of the toughest guys in this league as far as playing through injury and through pain.”

The 36-year-old is averaging 22.3 points from 35 games this season and is signed through next season after inking a two-year contract extension in 2013 for US$48.5 million.

This season, the Lakers are 12-31, second from bottom of the Western Conference.

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