The Houston Rockets got back to .500 tonight with a 121-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls. James Harden scored 30 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists, and he was downright dominant at times, shooting 9-16 from the field and 6-11 from deep to spearhead the Houston offensive attack. He also played just 30 minutes of action, his second straight light night after handling a massive minutes load this past week.
This was the second straight win for the Rockets, who look more like themselves with several players back in the lineup. Chris Paul, who played in his second straight after returning from injury, went for 12 points and 13 assists, and the Rockets simply look like a different team when CP3 is helping The Beard run the show.
The bench was also pretty deep tonight, as Gerald Green is back healthy and went for 10 points, and it was a pleasant sight seeing Nene back on the court. The Brazilian big man went for 4 points, 3 rebounds, and a block in 12 minutes, but his on-court impact was much greater, as he brings veteran leadership to the backup center position. As much as we love Isaiah Hartenstein and his potential, the Rockets are better right now with Nene backing up Clint Capela.
Speaking of Capela, he had a strong night, going for 18 points and 15 boards, and he put away his fair share of lobs from The Beard. The Rockets also got 15 from Eric Gordon, who seems to be slowly coming around, 11 from P.J. Tucker and 10 from James Ennis, for seven total Rockets in double-figure scoring. Houston was able to clear the bench with three minutes left to play.
The defense was also much better for the second straight night, as they held the Bulls to just 44 percent shooting one night after keeping the Spurs at 45 percent. It’s amazing the effect familiarity and experience has on Houston’s D. It’s one thing to keep in mind about their struggles on that end; when they’ve been healthy, the defense has been improved.
It’s also important to note that rookie Gary Clark played in just 3 minutes of garbage time tonight, with most of his minutes going to Danuel House. Clark may have hit a little wall after his fast start, but he’ll push through it and will be contributing again soon.
As for the Bulls, they were led by Zach Lavine, who scored 29 points, Jabari Parker, who finished with 21 points and 12 boards, Justin Holiday, who had 11, and Lauri Markkanen, who finished with 10.
The Rockets now have Sunday off before returning to action on Monday night on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it appears that the team could be on another upswing after getting most of the rotation back healthy. Once Brandon Knight returns, we’ll have a full gauge as to where this team is at 100 percent.