Butler, Bulls deny Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Chicago Bulls were angry and on edge after three straight losses. They channeled those emotions into one of their best wins of the season.
Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, and Pau Gasol had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Bulls' 105-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
In a game that featured several skirmishes, the Bulls outrebounded the NBA's No. 2 rebounding team 53-48.
"We've just got to go out there and attack," Chicago forward Taj Gibson, who got a double technical with Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, said. "It's no time to be friends with anybody right now. We've got enough friends in here. We're with each other 24-7. We can't go out there and look to be nice to everybody."
Derrick Rose added 19 points, and Gibson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Chicago held the Thunder to 38.5-percent shooting, Oklahoma City's third-worst showing of the season.
Kevin Durant had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Oklahoma City, and Russell Westbrook added 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. The Thunder had won three straight and nine of 10.
"I think we did a really good job of making sure we closed out to 3-point shooters," Rose said. "We trusted the game plan. We know K.D. is a great 3-point shooter, (Anthony) Morrow, and Westbrook when his feet are set, and you just can't let them get hot. Everybody else on the team, we forced them to make shots and make plays."
Durant said he didn't like the way the Thunder played at times when they got behind.
"If you try to get it all back in one play, try to get a steal, try to come down and shoot a pull-up 3 — just doing stupid stuff that we did all night, it will be tough to win," Durant said.
Chicago led 51-37 with 4:58 left in the first half, but the Thunder cut it to 54-52 at halftime. Durant scored 19 points in the half, and Westbrook had 12 points and five assists.
Gasol and Butler each scored 11 points in the first half for the Bulls.
Chicago scored the first eight points of the second half to go up 62-52 and force the Thunder to call a timeout. The Bulls led 86-68 at the end of the third quarter.
HEAT 94, PELICANS 88, OT: At Miami, Chris Bosh had 30 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 19 points to move into No. 3 on the NBA's Christmas Day list and Miami survived some shaky moments to beat New Orleans.
Hassan Whiteside grabbed 17 rebounds for the Heat, an NBA-best 10-2 on the holiday.
Wade's tough jumper with 1:45 left in overtime gave him 273 points on Christmas, one more than Shaquille O'Neal for No. 3, and Bosh followed that about a minute later with a three-point play.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 29 points and 15 rebounds. But he missed a contested jumper on New Orleans' final possession of regulation, and the Heat took control in the extra session.
ROCKETS 88, SPURS 84: At Houston, James Harden had 20 points and the Houston Rockets slowed down the soaring San Antonio Spurs.
The improved Houston defense held the Spurs to a season low in points to snap their season-best seven-game winning streak.
Houston used an 8-2 run to take a 78-71 lead with about 5 minutes left. Tim Duncan made a hook shot after that, but Harden hit a 3-pointer. A layup by Duncan came next before Harden brought the crowd to its feet with an off-balance 3-pointer from the corner that made it 84-75.
The Spurs resorted to the Hack-A-Howard tactic soon after that, intentionally fouling Dwight Howard on two straight possessions. He missed all four free throws, and a basket by LaMarcus Aldridge got the Spurs to 86-81.
Kawhi Leonard made a 3-pointer after two free throws by Houston to allow San Antonio to cut the lead to four, but he missed a shot a few seconds later and Houston held on for the victory.
Leonard had 20 points to lead San Antonio.
CLIPPERS 94, LAKERS 84: At Los Angeles, Chris Paul scored 23 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers to end a three-game skid.
Kobe Bryant scored 12 points in his league-record 16th and final Christmas Day game. He played 26 minutes and sat out the entire fourth quarter while the Lakers outscored the Clippers 27-9.
J.J. Redick had 14 points and DeAndre Jordan had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers. They have won eight straight against the Lakers and 12 of the last 13 meetings with their Staples Center co-tenants.
Rookie D'Angelo Russell had a team-high 16 points off the bench for the Lakers.
Bryant announced on Nov. 29 that he will retire after this season, his 20th in the NBA. He has a record 395 points on Christmas Day.