NEW ORLEANS: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. – AFP

NEW ORLEANS: Rookie Zion Williamson had a career-high 31 points, and Josh Hart scored 12 of his 17 points in a pivotal third quarter as the host New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 138-117 on Tuesday night. Williamson, returning from a one-game absence caused by a sprained ankle, added nine rebounds and five assists. Hart started in place of All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, who missed his second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle. The Pelicans trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, pulled within two at halftime and outscored the Blazers 41-21 in the third quarter. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum scored 20 points apiece for the Trail Blazers.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 110 – LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 103
Ben Simmons had 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead host Philadelphia past Los Angeles. Simmons’ sixth triple-double of the season helped the Sixers win their third game in a row. Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, criticized by some fans for social media tweets and posts, added 26 points and nine rebounds. Josh Richardson scored 21 points and Tobias Harris added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, who improved to a league-best 25-2 at home. Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points and handed out nine assists for the Clippers, who fell to 1-2 on their four-game road trip.

HOUSTON ROCKETS 116 – BOSTON CELTICS 105
James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 78 points, and host Houston snapped Boston’s seven-game win streak. Harden produced 42 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while Westbrook chipped in 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Harden scored 31 points in the second half, including 19 in succession for Houston in the third quarter en route to his 19th 40-point game on the season. Gordon Hayward led Boston with 20 points and six assists, and he added eight rebounds. Jaylen Brown chipped in 19 points despite battling bothersome ankles. Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum combined for 29 points on 10-of-32 shooting. That duo finished 1 of 13 from 3-point range.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS 126 – CHICAGO BULLS 114
Bradley Beal scored 30 points on 12-for-23 shooting, and Washington held on for a win over visiting Chicago. Rui Hachimura finished with 20 points for Washington, which won for the fourth time in the past six games. Ian Mahinmi and Shabazz Napier contributed 15 points apiece. Zach LaVine scored a game-high 41 points on 15-for-21 shooting, drilling 8 of 11 3-point attempts for the Bulls. Tomas Satoransky had 19 points and eight assists as Chicago dropped its sixth straight game.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS 114 – OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 106
LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray scored 25 points each as visiting San Antonio beat Oklahoma City. The win snapped the Spurs’ five-game losing streak and sent San Antonio into the All-Star break on a winning note. Murray was 9 of 12 from the floor as the Spurs shot 48.8 percent overall and hit 25 of 27 free throws. Patty Mills added 20 points to help the Spurs bench outscore Oklahoma City’s 42-19. Chris Paul led the Thunder with 31 points, hitting five 3-pointers and shooting 12 of 18 overall and 5 of 9 from behind the arc. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 17 points for Oklahoma City. – Reuters