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Rockets extend streak to 10 games with 118-86 win over Bulls

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HOUSTON (AP) Eric Gordon scored 31 points and tied a career high with eight 3-pointers on a night James Harden sat out to rest, and the Houston Rockets got their 10th straight win with a 118-86 rout of the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Trevor Ariza added 21 points and Chris Paul had 13 points and 10 assists in his return after missing the last three games with a sore hamstring.

The NBA-leading Rockets became the first team since San Antonio in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season to have three winning streaks of at least 10 games in a season. They won 14 in a row from Nov. 16-Dec. 18 and 17 straight from Jan. 28-March 7.

Lauri Markkanen returned after missing Saturday’s game with lower back spasms and had 22 points for the Bulls, who dropped their sixth straight.

The Rockets had a 21-point lead at halftime, paced by 24 points from Gordon, and opened the third quarter with a 16-2 run to extend it to 76-41 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Ariza had eight points, powered by two 3-pointers in that stretch.

The Bulls couldn’t do anything right in that span, missing four shots and committing five turnovers, including one on a shot clock violation and another when David Nwaba stepped out of bounds.

Nwaba made Chicago’s first basket in more than 3 1/2 minutes, but the Rockets scored the next seven points to make it a 40-point lead with just more than five minutes left in the quarter.

After never trailing in their blowout wins over New Orleans and Atlanta, the Rockets spent 13 seconds behind on Tuesday night after Cameron Payne put Chicago up 2-0 with a basket early in the first.

Gordon’s first 3-pointer came next to put Houston up for good. It was the first of a 14-3 run that put the Rockets ahead 14-5 with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

Markkanen had the next seven points to get Chicago within two, but an 11-2 spurt by Houston followed to extend the lead to 25-14.

Chicago cut the lead to eight on a 3-pointer by Denzel Valentine about nine minutes before halftime before the Rockets used a 13-2 run to extend it to 51-32 five minutes later. Nene had four points in that stretch and Gordon added five, including a 3-pointer to cap it.

The Rockets were up by 16 late in the second when Gordon scored all of Houston’s points in an 8-4 run to wrap up the first half and make it 60-39.

TIP-INS

Bulls: Sean Kilpatrick, who signed a three-year deal on Tuesday, had 12 points and two rebounds. … Noah Vonleh had 10 points and 12 rebounds. … Chicago had 18 turnovers.

Rockets: Luc Mbah a Moute missed his third straight game with a sore left knee. … Houston made 18 3-pointers to give them at least 15 in six of the last seven games. … Tuesday was the third straight game where Houston held its opponent to less than 50 points in the first half.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Visit Miami on Thursday.

Rockets: Host Phoenix on Friday.

Kelly Oubre: Raptors’ Delon Wright ‘doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home’

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Delon Wright made some big plays down the stretch to help the Raptors to a Game 5 win over the Wizards last night. With Toronto up 3-2 in the first-round series and the home team winning the first five games, Game 6 is tomorrow in Washington.

Oubre, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”

Wright decided not to escalate the conflict when reporters asked him about it.

Wright has been much better in Toronto than Washington in this series. His average game score is 14.7 at home and 5.7 on the road.

But that’s such a small sample. During the regular season, there wasn’t nearly such a big split between Wright’s average game score at home (8.4) and on the road (6.9).

For what it’s worth, Oubre has a somewhat similar home-road average-game-score split, both in this series (9.4 at home, 6.3 on the road) and during the regular season (8.1 at home, 7.5 on the road). Which Oubre basically acknowledged in his diss of Wright/self-own.

This is pretty typical Oubre – hyper-competitive verging on out of control. It’s fun regardless.

Let’s just say he’s right, though, and the Wizards win Game 6. Game 7 would be Sunday in Toronto, where, by Oubre’s own admission, Wright plays well and the Raptors are undefeated in the postseason. Then what?

Rumor: Bulls expected to wait until 2019 for free-agency splash

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The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.

Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”

Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.

Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago:

The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.

This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.

There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.