Bulls are no match for James Harden and Rockets, who roll to 117-94 win

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- The Bulls knew the Rockets could hurt them mainly in three ways: from 3-point range, at the free-throw line and on fast breaks.

They did a good job of handling the United Center visitors in the first quarter Saturday night but couldn't keep it up. Not against James Harden, who led all scorers with 42 points, and Russell Westbrook, who added 26, in the Rockets' 117-94 win.

Four Bulls -- Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison -- tied for the team lead with 13 points. Carter pulled down 16 rebounds and LaVine had five assists. Otto Porter Jr. didn't play because of a bruised left foot.

The Bulls shot 37 of 98 (37.8%) overall and missed 28 of 32 3-point attempts.

The Bulls couldn't keep Harden off the line, where he went 9 for 11. And after the Bulls held him to 30% from 3-point range in the first half, Harden found his stroke in the third quarter, connecting on three 3s and sparking the Rockets' barrage of seven that fueled them to a 19-point lead.

Clint Capela had 16 points and 20 rebounds for the Rockets, who led by as many as 23.


Harden made six second-half 3s and went 9 of 11 from long range on the night before he took a seat for good with about three minutes left and the Rockets leading 110-85.

By the fourth quarter, Westbrook was running to the rim at will. After LaVine missed a 3 attempt, Westbrook caught the rebound and darted down the floor for a layup that put the Rockets up 90-72 and prompted Bulls coach Jim Boylen to take a timeout.

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