The Houston Rockets' top position in the Western Conference is definitely going to be tested on their current road trip, which began on Tuesday night. So far, so good, as the NBA's best team extended their win streak to 16 games with a 122-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chris Paul scored 25 points for Houston, who shot 53 percent from the floor, including 51 percent from three-point range on the night. James Harden added 23 points and 11 assists, as the Rockets tied the Boston Celtics for the longest win streak in the NBA this season. Trevor Ariza added 15 points and Eric Gordon had 14 for Houston, as they finished 17-of-.33 from beyond the arc and 29-of-34 at the free throw line. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder got 32 points from Russell Westbrook and 23 from Carmelo Anthony, as they now sit in the seventh-seed in the Western Conference. The conference standings are very close, though, as the third through 10th spot is separated by just 4.5 games. The Thunder look to improve their positioning when they host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Rockets, who hold a half game lead on the Golden State Warriors, who clinched their fifth straight 50-win season, will stay on the road Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Pelicans, Trail Blazers Stay Hot
As I mentioned before, the Western Conference has remained very close outside of the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, Two of those hot teams kept things rolling on Tuesday night, starting with the New Orleans Pelicans, who earned their ninth straight win, 121-116, over the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony Davis returned from an apparent injury to his side and finished with 41 points and 13 rebounds, as the Pelicans remained hot without DeMarcus Cousins. He tied a career-high with four three-pointers, as the Pelicans led by as many as 20 on the night. The Clippers were able to make things interesting late, led by Tobias Harris' 27 points. Lou Williams also added 27 of his own along with 11 assists, as Harris had a double-double with 11 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell had a big night with 26 points, but the Clippers saw their two-game win streak come to an end. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard continued to pace his Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night in a 111-87 win over the New York Knicks. Lillard had 37 points, including eight three-pointers in what was Portland's eighth straight victory, Lillard's hot hand from beyond the arc helped the Blazers finished at 60 percent from three-point range on the night. C,J. McCollum added 19 points to lead Portland to their longest win streak since winning nine in a row in 2014. They now sit in third place in the Western Conference as they move on to host the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. The Pelicans take their win streak in to Sacramento on Wednesday against the Kings.
Gonzaga Wins Sixth Straight WCC Title
The sixth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs have dominated the West Coast Conference for a long time, and Tuesday night was no different. The Bulldogs won their sixth straight West Coast Conference Tournament Title with a 74-54 rout of the BYU Cougars in Orleans Arena. Killian Tillie stayed hot with 22 points, as the sixth-ranked Bulldogs solidified their spot in the NCAA Tournament, as if it wasn't already. They used a 36-6 run that spanned from the first half into the second half to pull away for what is also their 17th West Coast Conference Tournament Title in school history. They got things done on the defensive end as well, holding BYU to just 35 percent shooting and won their 17th straight tournament game. The Cougars, who were coming off an upset win over No. 20 Saint Mary's in the semi-finals, got 20 points from Yoeli Childs, who had a career night in Monday's win. The Bulldogs took out San Francisco and Loyola Marymount in a couple blowouts to reach their 21st straight tournament title game. Selection Sunday is this weekend after the other conference tournaments end, as the Bulldogs are hoping another conference crown will increase their chances of getting a higher seed.