The in-form Houston Rockets defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, while reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors overcame the Portland Trail Blazers.
While James Harden rightly gets most of the praise for helping the Rockets lead the Western Conference, team-mate Clint Capela's emergence has made the team elite, evident in Monday's 130-123 victory against the Pelicans.
Capela has thrived since his move to full-time starting center, highlighted by his 28 points on 13-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and five blocks against the Pelicans as the Rockets extended their winning streak to 10 games.
Harden added 26 points with 17 assists and six steals, spearheading Houston's late charge. The Rockets outscored the Pelicans 34-20 in the final quarter.
Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 37 points, and E'Twaun Moore added 36 points, but it was not enough to earn the win. Rajon Rondo also recorded a triple-double, which made the Pelicans the fourth team in which he has accomplished the feat with. He scored 13 points with 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Rockets maintain a slender lead over the Warriors in the Western Conference – Golden State beating the Trail Blazers 111-104.
Kevin Durant had 28 points, while Klay Thompson scored 24 of his own.
HOWARD SINKS THUNDER
Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard scored 23 point on nine-of-13 shooting with seven rebounds and two blocks to lead his team to a 116-103 road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Hornets have struggled to find consistency this season, but Howard has enjoyed a career resurgence. The win snapped a three-game Hornets losing streak as Russell Westbrook and the Thunder continue to struggle.
CELTICS STRUGGLE WITHOUT IRVING
Playing in the absence of star Kyrie Irving due to a quad contusion and Marcus Morris (knee), the Boston Celtics fell to a shock 108-85 loss to the struggling Chicago Bulls. Al Horford led the team with 15 points, but it was disappointing to see Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart struggle when given the opportunity to lead.
TURNER MAKES IT LOOK EASY!
Where was the defense on this Evan Turner slam?
— NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2017
Miami Heat 107-82 Memphis Grizzlies
Chicago Bulls 108-85 Boston Celtics
Charlotte Hornets 116-103 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 130-123 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Clippers 96-91 Toronto Raptors
Golden State Warriors 111-104 Portland Trail Blazers
76ERS AT TIMBERWOLVES
Two of the best young teams in the NBA face off in a battle for playoff position on Tuesday. The Philadelphia 76ers have lost four in a row, and five of their last six, but they have endured a tough schedule and still performed admirably. Rookie Ben Simmons is nearly averaging a triple-double, and the Minnesota Timberwolves allow over 107 points per game, so he should find more success.