Published — Monday 4 February 2013
Last update 4 February 2013 5:53 am
ATLANTA: The Chicago Bulls overcame the absence of a trio of injured starters and used their stifling defense to post an impressive 93-76 win at the Atlanta Hawks in Sunday’s NBA action.
Luol Deng had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who opened a one-game lead atop the Central Division.
In other key games, Portland beat Utah to move within 1-1/2 games of its Northwest rival, Cleveland pulled off a shock result by beating high-flying Oklahoma City, San Antonio lost Tim Duncan to a knee injury during the win over Washington, and New York routed Sacramento, going on a 38-4 run at one point.
Chicago played without injured starters Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, but dominated near the basket and got a lift from the frenetic play of Nate Robinson (20 points). The Bulls used only eight players for the second straight night, but it was more than enough for an impressive road win.
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 19 points and 13 rebounds but he scored only three points in the second half.
The Portland Trail Blazers had a 105-99 home win over Utah Jazz, reversing the result of Friday’s game in Salt Lake City.
Damian Lillard had 23 points and J.J. Hickson added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers.
Randy Foye scored 23 points for the Jazz, who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving put in a spectacular performance that led the Cavaliers to an unlikely 115-110 win over Oklahoma City Thunder.
One night after saying he was “disinterested” during a loss in Detroit, Irving scored 35 points, including 13 in the final 2:52 to seal the win.
Marreese Speights scored 21 points, including eight straight in the fourth when Cleveland’s reserves opened a lead. Kevin Durant scored 32 points for the Thunder, but left briefly in the third quarter with an apparent back injury.
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan sprained his left knee and right ankle as the Spurs beat the Washington Wizards 96-86.
Washington’s Martell Webster rolled into the back of Duncan’s legs while fighting for a rebound in the second quarter, and there were audible gasps in the crowd while the All-Star was on the floor holding his left knee for several minutes.
The severity of the injuries is not known, but Duncan did not return to the bench after being helped off the court by teammates.
Tony Parker scored 19 points and Danny Green added 15 for San Antonio, which has won 18 straight at home. John Wall scored 21 points for Washington, which has lost 13 straight to San Antonio.
The New York Knicks crushed the Sacramento Kings 120-81, with even that big margin disguising the home team’s dominance, because Sacramento actually led by 10 points early.
New York’s Amare Stoudemire was 10 for 10 from the field for 21 points, entering the game when the Knicks were trailing.
The Knicks didn’t even need much from Carmelo Anthony, who tied a season low with nine points and had his run of 20-point games snapped at 31, the longest single-season streak in franchise history.
DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Kings.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry returned in style from an ankle injury, scoring 19 of his 29 points in the second half to steer the Warriors to a 113-93 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Harrison Barnes matched his season high with 21 points for the Warriors, who have won four straight to close within 3-1/2 games of the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers.
Michael Beasley scored 24 points for the Suns.
Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Bucks beat Orlando 107-98 to inflict a ninth straight loss on the Magic, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended a six-game losing skid by downing the New Orleans Hornets 115-86, while Houston’s James Harden recorded his first career triple-double — 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists — as the Rockets beat the Charlotte Bobcats 109-95.