By Richard Kagan
James Harden, the leading scorer in the NBA didn’t play in this game. It didn’t matter. The Houston Rockets topped the Chicago Bulls after blowing a 21 point lead. Chicago fought back to take a brief lead in the third quarter, but Houston had too much fire-power even without Harden, and they won, 116-107.
Veteran G Chris Paul scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Eric Gordon scored 24 points and Gerald Green added 22 to lead the Rockets (28-11), one of the elite teams in the League. The Bulls, playing without Niko Mirotic, out due to a stomach illness, tried to keep up but fell short. Houston had an 87-76 lead to start the fourth quarter and were not threatened in the game.
Bobby Portis led Chicago with 22 points off the bench. Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn both had 19 points. Lauri Markkanen had 16 for Chicago, which lost its fourth in five games.
Houston out-rebounded the Bulls 51-37 and that kept the Bulls at a dis-advantage. Kris Dunn played hard and gave the Bulls a brief two point lead early in the third quarter, but Houston had the answers. Trevor Ariza had six three points baskets and nine rebounds for the Rockets. You’d hate to look at the score with Harden in the game. Speaking of injured players, Zach Lavine is gearing up for making his season debut later in the week (Saturday). The Bulls are being careful with LaVine but he should be ready fairly soon. The Bulls (14-27) are a team in flux. Things may improve with LaVine in the lineup. Chicago is looking at all options. Other teams may express interest in Mirotic and he could be traded after January 15th. Robin Lopez is rumored to follow. Who knows what the Bulls will look like? Lately they’ve been pretty competitive despite the recent losses.
Bulls fans I am sure, would like to see a full team on the floor and let ’em play.