LOS ANGELES: The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks picked up where they left off when the NBA resumed following the All-Star break on Thursday as both notched their seventh straight NBA victories.
Luka Doncic scored 41 points with nine rebounds and 11 assists and Kyrie Irving added 29 points for the Mavs in a 123-113 home victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Derrick White scored 28 points and Jayson Tatum scored 25 to lead the Celtics, who used a big third quarter to take control on the way to a 129-112 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.
It had looked like business as usual for league-leading Boston when they took a 16-point lead in the first quarter. But the Bulls outscored them 39-28 in the second period and led by three at halftime before the Celtics righted the ship.
White and Tatum made five three-pointers each as the Celtics connected on 23 from beyond the arc.
Nikola Vucevic led Chicago with 22 points and 14 rebounds but the Bulls had no answer when Boston clamped down defensively in the second half.
In Dallas, the Mavericks also found themselves down by three at halftime. But they opened the third quarter on a 16-0 run to seize a double-digit lead and didn’t trail again.
“It’s always tough to come back from All-Star, the first game’s always tough,” Doncic told broadcaster TNT. “We played against an amazing team, but we showed out.”
Devin Booker scored 35 points to pace Phoenix and Kevin Durant added 23.
But the Suns couldn’t reel the Mavs back in late, Irving pushing Dallas’s lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter with a thrilling coast-to-coast that saw him dribble behind his back before spinning to the rim.
With the win the Mavs matched Phoenix’s 33-23 record and earned the tiebreaker over the Suns.
“I think it was a very big game,” Doncic said after the Mavs climbed into playoff position at sixth in the West, but added: “We’ve got to get ready for the next game and just keep going like that.”
In Denver, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic grabbed another piece of NBA history when he became just the third player to record at least one triple-double against every team he has faced in the league in a 130-110 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Jokic was a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor on the way to 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists.
“When I finish career it’s going to be like a legacy,” he said after joining LeBron James and Russell Westbrook as players with a triple-double against every team they have faced.
Even more importantly, the reigning champion Nuggets snapped the three-game losing streak they took into the All-Star break.
“We needed this win,” added Jokic, whose 16th triple-double of the season puts him second on this season’s list behind Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, who posted his 19th with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 127-122 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Golden State star Stephen Curry drilled six three-pointers on the way to 32 points to lead the Warriors to a 128-110 victory over a Los Angeles Lakers team that was missing LeBron James — who sat out with an ankle injury.
Curry set the tone early, making six of eight shots, including four three-pointers, on the way to 16 first-quarter points. Curry added eight assists and became the first Warrior with 6,000 in the regular season.
Anthony Davis had 27 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Lakers, whose three-game winning streak ended.
In Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points to led the Thunder to a 129-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a clash of Western Conference contenders.
Lu Dort added 19 points as all five starters scored in double figures for the Thunder, who moved within one game of West leaders Minnesota.
Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points and Norman Powell added 19 off the bench for the third-placed Clippers.
Brooklyn’s coaching change brought no quick change of fortune as the Nets fell 121-93 to the Raptors in Toronto in their first game since Kevin Ollie took over as interim coach after Jacque Vaughn was fired.