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Westbrook’s Thunder rolls over Bulls, Davis paces Pelicans

Russell Westbrook (0) of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives the lane between Nikola Mirotic (44) and Doug McDermott (11) of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Monday night. (AFP)

LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook fell one rebound shy of his 18th triple-double of the season, but his 21 points were plenty in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 109-94 NBA victory over the Bulls in Chicago.
NBA scoring leader Westbrook maintained his sizzling form, adding 14 assists and nine rebounds in the win.
It’s the fourth time this season he has finished one point, one rebound or one assist shy of a triple-double.
The anticipated clash between Westbrook and red-hot Bulls forward Jimmy Butler did not materialize, with Butler hampered by the illness that prevented him from attending Chicago’s morning shoot-around.
Butler, who was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier Monday, played just under 29 minutes and finished with just one point.
He went 0-for-6 from the field and was taken out of the game in the second half because of the illness.
“Obviously, we appreciate him going out and giving it a shot,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.
“But he was obviously really struggling and they sent him home after we took him out in the third quarter.”
Veteran Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, Michael Carter-Williams added 15 and Jerian Grant an Cristiano Felicio contributed 11 points apiece for the Bulls.
But it was not enough to keep pace with the Thunder, who had three players besides Westbrook score in double figures.
Center Steven Adams of New Zealand scored 22 points, big man Enes Kanter of Turkey added 20 and Victor Oladipo contributed 13.
“All year long, they continue to make my job easy on both sides of the floor, defensively as well as offensively,” Westbrook said of Adams and Kanter.
“(Adams) is a force. Like I’ve said before, when he plays like that it’s tough to beat us.”
Oklahoma City led most of the first half, building a 17-point margin in the second quarter and taking a 61-46 lead into the locker room at halftime.
A three-point play by Taj Gibson with 6:51 left in the third pulled the Bulls within 67-57, but Chicago would get no closer.
New Orleans forward Anthony Davis produced another big game in New York, his 40 points leading the Pelicans to a 110-96 victory over the Knicks.
Davis also pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked three shots, but the buzz at Madison Square Garden centered on the player who was not there — Knicks guard Derrick Rose.
Rose was a late, unexplained scratch, and his absence apparently took the Knicks by surprise. New York coach Jeff Hornacek could do little to clarify the situation after the game.
“Right now we don’t have enough information to really give you anything,” Hornacek said. “So that’s just going to have to wait until we hear something from Derrick himself.”
The rest of the Knicks did not really step up in Rose’s absence.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony was ejected for arguing about the officiating late in the third quarter, shortly before reserve Kyle O’Quinn was thrown out for a hard foul from behind on Davis that sent the Pelicans star flying into some courtside seats.
Davis left the contest, having posted his 25th double-double of the season. His five 40-point games this season are second-most behind Westbrook.
“I’m being aggressive,” Davis said. “We got a lot of good looks, so when we play like that we are a tough team to beat.”
He and coach Alvin Gentry were hoping the hip injury he suffered would not prove to be serious.
“The X-rays were negative,” Gentry said. “So, obviously it’s going to be sore, but we’ll know more tomorrow.”
Davis, who said he hit a chair, said he’d have treatment and hoped to be ready for Thursday’s game against the Nets in Brooklyn.
In Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns poured in 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 101-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Andrew Wiggins scored 13 points and Ricky Rubio added 13 and 15 assists for the Timberwolves, who snapped a four-game losing streak in a battle of Western Conference stragglers.

Butler, Curry named Players of the Week

The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 2 through Sunday, Jan. 8.
Butler led the Bulls to a 3-0 week, averaging a league-leading 38.0 points to go with 9.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. He opened the week by scoring 52 points in a 118-111 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the second 50-point game of his career and the first by a Bull at the United Center since Michael Jordan in April 1997. Butler was prolific at the free throw line, making 21-of-22 against the Hornets and closing the week by shooting 18-for-20 from the stripe on his way to 42 points in a 123-118 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 7.
Curry led the Warriors to a 3-1 week behind averages of 31.8 points (third in the West), 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. He scored at least 30 points in three of his four games and logged his second 40-point outing of the season when he finished with 40 points in a 128-119 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 6. Curry, who became just the seventh player in Warriors history to score 12,000 career points, shot 50.0 percent from the field, 89.5 percent from the free throw line and 39.1 percent from three-point range.

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