Love, Anthony and Mills amongst the star performers of the night.
There were 11 games on the NBA schedule on Wednesday night as the Houston Rockets won on Dwight Howard’s first return to the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 28-year-old had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the 134-108 win, which extended Houston’s winning streak to eight games whilst piling more home misery on their hosts.
“We’re always going to have fun when we’re playing basketball. We love what we’re doing,” Howard said. “We’re playing great, and we just want to have as much fun as possible.”
Wesley Johnson responded with 24 points for Los Angeles, while Kendall Marshall continued his strong form with 20 points and 16 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers remain tied for last place in the Western Conference with the Sacramento Kings at 18-36.
With Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry and Nick Young still all sidelined with injury, coach Mike D’Antoni was handed reserve guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks in a trade deal which saw Steve Blake join the Golden State Warriors.
Elsewhere, Kevin Love enjoyed an eighth straight game with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds, which is the longest streak since Shaquille O’Neal accomplished the same feat back in 2005.
The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward ended the win over the Indiana Pacers with 42 points and 16 rebounds, while Ricky Rubio tied a franchise record of 17 assists as they outshone Paul George who had 35 points.
“This is one of my favourite wins of the season just because we played a very good team,” Love said. “We did it without two key players and we fought hard.”
The win moves Minnesota to 26-28 for the season as they continue to push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, while the Pacers slip to 41-13 and 15-10 on the road.
Meanwhile, the big performances of the night didn’t end there as Patty Mills continued to step up in the absence of Tony Parker to help the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
With Tim Duncan rested and Kawhi Leonard still out injured, Mills led the Spurs with 29 points off the bench while Marco Belinelli added 20 points and Manu Ginobili had 16 for the visitors.
Mills explained his recent stretch in humble tones, saying “for me, it’s just been learning from great guys. We’ve got three future Hall of Famers and a great coach, so I’ve just sat back and learned.”
Coach Gregg Popovich was delighted with the effort shown by his players, as they were able to cope with 31 points from Damian Lillard to hold on to the win and are now starting to show signs of being able to improve against the elite teams.
Carmelo Anthony also enjoyed a big night as his 42 points pushed the New York Knicks to a win on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Knicks who improve to 21-33 for the season, as J.R. Smith had 19 points while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 16.
Detroit Pistons 98-116 Charlotte Bobcats
Orlando Magic 93-101- Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls 94-92 Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards 114-97 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers 91-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New York Knicks 98-91 New Orleans Pelicans
Boston Celtics 94-100 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 105-99 Utah Jazz
San Antonio Spurs 111-109 Portland Trail Blazers
Golden State Warriors 101-92 Sacramento Kings
Houston Rockets 134-108 Los Angeles Lakers