Noah paces Bulls to win with triple-double on big night for stars.
There were seven games on the NBA schedule on Tuesday night, with Kevin Durant and LeBron James putting on impressive displays to guide their respective teams to victories.
Durant had a double-double consisting of 36 points and 10 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder secured a hard-fought win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The leading candidate for the MVP award insisted that although his team respects their Western Conference rivals, “we don’t like them and they don’t like us” as Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson added 19 and 17 points respectively.
OKC have now won 14 of their last 16 games to move to a 42-12 record, while Portland begin to fall away after a hot streak to start the campaign, as they are now at a 36-16 mark.
Nevertheless, despite losing five of their last seven, the Trail Blazers remain in third place although despite some big performances from Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez, they missed a handful of key shots which could have claimed the win.
Elsewhere, the Miami Heat were also victorious on Tuesday night with James returning to form with 37 points and nine rebounds.
Having matched his season low in the loss to the Utah Jazz last Saturday, the four-time MVP was back to his best in the win over the Phoenix Suns.
“It was good to see us respond,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And this response started yesterday in practice. There wasn’t any dancing around it, we were flat and we didn’t bring a game necessary to win on the road against Utah.”
Chris Bosh added 21 points while Mario Chalmers had 13 as the Heat were without Dwyane Wade because of a migraine.
Gerald Green had 26 points for the hosts but couldn’t prevent a eighth straight loss to Miami, who improve to 36-14 while the Suns slip to 30-21.
Meanwhile, Joakim Noah was also in top form as his triple-double led the Chicago Bulls to victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Noah scored 19 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had 11 assists, while his two late free throws provided the Bulls fans with free Big Macs having pushed the points scored to 100.
“Those were tough free throws, man,” Noah said after the game.
Taj Gibson had 24 points and 12 rebounds as he continues to impress in Carlos Boozer’s absence, while Jimmy Butler had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who had six players in double figures.
Chicago improve to 26-25 and leapfrog the Hawks into fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, with coach Tom Thibodeau praising Noah, who he believes is now fully fit and back in his rhythm after struggling with injuries at the start of the year.
The Bulls are now just a game adrift of the Toronto Raptors for the third seed, as they look to put together a run despite being written off after losing Derrick Rose to injury and trading Luol Deng.
The other notable performance of the night came in Cleveland, as rookie and much-maligned No.1 pick in the NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett, registered his first league double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds as he guided the Cavaliers to a third straight win.
Dallas Mavericks 89-114 Charlotte Bobcats
Sacramento Kings 99-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks 85-100 Chicago Bulls
Washington Wizards 89-92 Memphis Grizzlies
Miami Heat 103-97 Phoenix Suns
Oklahoma City Thunder 98-95 Portland Trail Blazers
Utah Jazz 96-79 Los Angeles Lakers