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Rockets grind out win over Bulls in Harden’s return

It may not have been pretty, but the Rockets got the job done.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden returned to the lineup tonight and led his team to victory over the Chicago Bulls by a score of 96-88.

Harden missed the last three games with a hamstring strain but returned tonight and looked shaky with eight turnovers but was able to contribute a good deal and the Rockets would not have won tonight without his efforts.

In the first half, it took Harden a long time to get comfortable, not scoring until midway into the second quarter. Luckily for The Beard, his teammates were able to carry the load. James Ennis III scored 13 of his 15 points in just 10 first half minutes despite being questionable for the contest with a hamstring injury he has been struggling with since the beginning of the season.

Carmelo Anthony also picked up right where he left off last night, making five of his first six shots en route to 11 first-half points. He finished the game with 17 points and seven boards off the bench.

In the second half, the Bulls came out ice cold. The team scored just seven points and shot 2-17 from the field in the second-worst scoring quarter in Bulls history. This allowed the Rockets to take advantage in the game and they were able to take the lead for good midway through the third.

In the fourth, the Bulls tried to claw their way back, shrinking the Rockets lead to as little as six points, but the Rockets were able to fend off the Bulls rally.

For Chicago, Zach LaVine was the top scorer with 21 despite shooting just 4-16 from the field. Rookies Chandler Hutchison and Wendell Carter Jr. were bright spots for the young team, scoring 12 and 14 points respectively. Carter Jr. was also able to grab 13 rebounds for his second career double-double.

Both teams struggled mightily all night long. It was clear that both teams were exhausted from their tight games on Friday night and it showed in the box score. The Bulls shot just a smudge under 39 percent from the field and the Rockets weren’t much better, shooting 42 percent from the floor. Both teams also committed 19 turnovers, which made this game tough to watch at some points.

Luckily for the Rockets, they got the win, and a win is a win.

The Rockets take tomorrow off but on Monday they will play their third road game in four nights as the Pacers host them in Indiana. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.

Box Score