LOS ANGELES: Atlanta center Al Horford made sure the Hawks measured up on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), scoring 33 points in a 120-105 victory that ended the Chicago Bulls’ winning streak at six games.
Horford also pulled down 10 rebounds, handed out six assists and blocked four shots as Atlanta led throughout.
“We understood that this was a good measuring-stick game for us,” Horford said. “We knew that the effort had to be there more than ever.
“We’ve been playing hard, but we knew we had to play harder. From the beginning of the game, we did that.”
The Hawks, who improved to 23-15, had six players shoot in double figures and forced 22 turnovers from the Bulls, who at 22-13 are clinging to the number two spot in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland.
Horford said the Hawks will need to produce more of the same to move up.
“We need to continue to do what we did today, moving the ball and hustling on defense consistently,” Horford said. “As a team, I feel that we sometimes have lapses in those areas.”
Horford set the tone with 11 first-quarter points. He made 15 of 21 shots and his points total was one short of his career high.
“Al Horford was very vintage,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Everyone kind of followed his lead.”
The Bulls had 27 points and 10 rebounds from guard Jimmy Butler and 24 points form Nikola Mirotic, but rarely matched the Hawks’ intensity.
“We dug ourselves a big hole obviously early in the game,” Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They had way more energy coming out of the gate than we did.”
Clippers clamp down
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul scored 25 points, handed out seven assists and grabbed seven rebounds in a 97-83 victory over short-handed Charlotte—and said it’s defensive commitment that has fueled the team’s eight-game winning streak.
The Clippers blocked nine Hornets shots—a rejection by Luc Mbah a Moute early in the first quarter showing Charlotte what they were in for.
By halftime DeAndre Jordan had added two more blocks and Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson one apiece—part of an overall defensive effort that saw the Clippers hold the Hornets to 36.7 shooting for the game and force 16 turnovers.
Paul said the defensive effort was allowing the Clippers to thrive in the absence of leading scorer Blake Griffin, sidelined by a torn quadriceps tendon.
“The only way we can really score without the big fella (Griffin) is if we de-fend and get out in transition,” he said.
Hornets guard Jeremy Lin led all scorers with 26 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Hornets from dropping their seventh straight on the road.
Magic succumb to wizardy
All-Star point guard John Wall led the hot-shooting Washington Wizards to a 105-99 victory over Orlando—Washington’s fourth win over the Magic this season and 12th in a row dating back to 2013.
Wall scored 24 points and handed out 10 assists, one of six Wizards players to score in double figures.
The Magic lost for the fifth time in six games and their frustration boiled over in the third quarter when Montenegrin center Nik Vucevic took a swipe at Washington center Marcin Gortat of Poland and was whistled for a flagrant foul.
The Magic will try to regroup in unfamiliar territory, when they play the Toronto Raptors on Thursday at London’s O2 Arena.
Warriors subdue Kings
Stephen Curry scored 38 poionts and passed out 11 assists and Draymond Green added 25 points and nine rebounds as the Golden State Warriors beat the Kings 128-116 in Sacramento.
The reigning champion Warriors improved to 35-2—turning back the tenacious Kings who trailed by just two at halftime.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins helped the hosts stay close, but when he went to the bench with four fouls early in the second half, Golden State put together a 9-2 scoring run to take their first double-digit lead and were never in trouble from there.
Cousins finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds—the fourth time in five games that he has scored at least 30 points.