CHICAGO – Pau Gasol was so in tune he gave a performance even one of the greatest tenors could appreciate.
Gasol had 17 points and 18 rebounds with Placido Domingo looking on, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 101-92 on Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.
“When our main players play at our highest level, we’re a really good team,” Gasol said.
The Bulls, who looked like they were coming apart not too long ago, certainly appear to be hitting the right notes.
Gasol had his 19th double-double. And as if that wasn’t enough, he was planning to have dinner with his countryman Domingo, who was in town to perform.
“He’s a basketball fan, he’s a sports fan,” Gasol said. “He’s here for a performance. I wish he was just here to visit me, but that doesn’t work that way. He’s a guy that I truly admire. I have a great friendship, relationship, with him.”
As good as Gasol was, this was hardly a one-man show.
Derrick Rose scored 18 points. Jimmy Butler added 19 points and 10 assists.
The Bulls used a big third quarter to extend their longest win streak of the season and handed the Celtics their fourth loss in five games.
Boston coach Brad Stevens missed this one to visit cancer-stricken former Butler center Andrew Smith, who played on the Bulldogs’ two runs to the national championship game. He has been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant Thursday, according to The Boston Globe.
“I was obviously thinking about Brad and wanting to represent him well and our players — wanting to do right by them,” said assistant Jay Larranaga, who filled in for Stevens. “They worked really, really hard. They’re traveling all over the place. Played last night, really, really tough game.”
Boston got 17 points from Jae Crowder. Kelly Olynyk added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Isaiah Thomas scored 14 but missed all four 3s while shooting 5 of 17 overall. Jared Sullinger added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Boston.
“They played great defense,” Sullinger said. “But we have to turn it back around and get back on our high horse and get back to running our offense the way we should.”
The Celtics got outscored 26-16 and shot 7 of 32 in the third as Chicago stretched a one-point halftime lead to 74-63. Hawks 126, 76ers 98
In Philadelphia, Kent Bazemore scored 22 points, Paul Millsap and Al Horford had 18 apiece and Atlanta blew out the 76ers to snap a two-game losing streak.
Dennis Schroder added 14 points off the bench for the Hawks, who shot 54 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range against the NBA’s worst team en route to their most lopsided win of the season.
Rookie Jahlil Okafor led Philadelphia with 21 points, while Nerlens Noel had nine points and 13 rebounds. Rockets 103, Jazz 94
In Houston, James Harden scored 33 points to lead the Rockets to their second victory over Utah in four days.
Houston won 93-91 on Monday in Salt Lake City. Harden had 30 points in that one and has scored at least 30 in three of his last four games.
Playing without Dwight Howard, who sat out with lower back tightness, the Rockets beat the Jazz for the 10th time in the last 12 meetings.
Gordon Hayward scored 15 points for Utah. Center Rudy Gobert played for the first time since spraining a left knee ligament on Nov. 30. He was limited to just 15 minutes but chipped in six points and three rebounds. Kings 118, Lakers 115
In Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the Kings blew all of a 27-point lead in the second half before beating Los Angeles.
Although Sacramento was ahead 25-4 five minutes into the game, it needed to rally late for the victory to overshadow 37-year-old Kobe Bryant, who thrilled the partisan crowd with 28 points.
Bryant made 10 of 18 shots and was 6-for-8 on free throws. But he was on the bench for the night by the time the Lakers made a huge comeback to take the lead down the stretch.