Houston came out firing from deep, going 8 for their first 10 from beyond the arc to help build a 34-13 first-quarter lead. They would keep bombing from outside all night, finishing 20-54 from three for the game.
The Bulls chipped away in the second quarter to get the game within 60-55 at halftime, and when the Rockets came out cold in the third quarter, the Bulls snagged a 65-62 lead.
But behind Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Gerald Green, the Rockets put their foot on the gas one last time, and the Bulls couldn’t quite match them down the stretch.
Paul once again led Houston in James Harden’s absence. He had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals, and he had the ball on a rope at times.
The Rockets also got 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists from Gordon. EG continues to step up while in the starting lineup, and when he’s playing well, the Rockets are tough.
Green once again amazed. He finished with 22 points and four threes, and perhaps most importantly, he scored 17 of those points in 12 first-half minutes in which the rest of the team had gone cold. Green, at times, kept the Rockets afloat single-handed during their mid-game lull. He also had a thunderous dunk, and we all continue to question why in the world he was sitting at home just a few weeks ago.
The Rockets also got contributions from the rest of the rotation. Trevor Ariza had 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, and he knocked down three consecutive triples in the fourth quarter to put Houston up 106-88 and essentially seal the game for the Rockets.
Clint Capela had 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 2 blocks for another big night in the box, and we even had brief Ryan Anderson and P.J. Tucker sightings tonight. Both guys have been B-A-D of late, and while neither exactly busted out in this game, Anderson hit a three, Tucker hit 2, and both scored 6 points, so maybe we’re starting to see some signs of life from them as well after the barren wasteland for both over these past two weeks.
The Bulls were led by Bobby Portis, who scored 22 off the bench, and they also got 19 from Denzel Valentine, 19 points and 8 assists from Kris Dunn, and 16 points and 8 boards from Lauri Markkanen.
The Rockets now move to 28-11 on the season, and though the Bulls aren’t a very good team, and the Rockets, as they are prone to doing, let Chicago get back in the game, with Houston missing three main rotation members, you take each and every win, regardless of the aesthetics.
The Rockets’ main goal right now should be win the games you are supposed to and hold it down respectably until the team gets healthy. They did that tonight.
They’ll be back in action Wednesday night at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.