CHICAGO — Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 35 points and added seven assists to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 103-97 win against the New York Knicks on Thursday at the United Center.
Chicago (16-9) played without star guard Derrick Rose, who was sick, and the Knicks (5-23) were without star forward Carmelo Anthony because of a sore left knee.
Forward Pau Gasol added 20 points, reserve guard Aaron Brooks scored 18 and rookie forward Nikola Mirotic chipped in 13 off the bench for the Bulls, who beat the Knicks for the seventh straight time on Chicago’s home floor and for the ninth time in the past 11 games overall. Bulls center Joakim Noah returned from a four-game injury absence and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. led the short-handed Knicks with 23 points, while forward Amar’e Stoudemire added 16 after surprising many by playing instead of sitting out.
Pelicans 99, Rockets 90
HOUSTON — Anthony Davis delivered an exceptional two-way performance as short-handed New Orleans fought off Houston. Davis paired 30 points with 14 rebounds while adding five blocks and two steals in carrying the Pelicans.
Trailing 73-72 early in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans, missing starters Eric Gordon (shoulder) and Tyreke Evans (knee), seized control with an 11-2 run. Davis capped the surge with consecutive baskets, but he had plenty of help. Four Pelicans scored in double figures, including reserve forwards Ryan Anderson (16 points) and Dante Cunningham (15).
Rockets guard James Harden endured a rare off night. He scored 21 points but missed 15 of 23 shots from the floor after performing brilliantly during a recent run of wins.
Bucks 108, Kings 107
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Center Zaza Pachulia knocked down one of two free throws with 6.5 seconds left, lifting Milwaukee to a victory over Sacramento and spoiling the return of center DeMarcus Cousins to the Kings’ lineup at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins finished with a game-high 27 points in his first action since Nov. 26 at Houston. He played 33 minutes, made his first four shots and finished 8-for-12 from the field with 11 rebounds and five assists.
However, Cousins and his teammates couldn’t overcome Milwaukee’s hot shooting. The Bucks made 13 of 23 3-pointers after entering the contest averaging only 6.4 made 3s per game, the fifth-worst average in the NBA.
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