EditorsNote: Minor fixes
James Harden scored 25 points, dished seven assists and added four steals as the visiting Houston Rockets pulled away for a 96-88 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Carmelo Anthony (17 points) and James Ennis III (15 points) were among three other Rockets to finish in double figures. Houston earned its second win in a row after losing the previous four.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 21 points during an unusual night in which he shot 4-for-16 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line. Jabari Parker added 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting for the Bulls, who have dropped four in a row.
Houston led by 17 points with 9:09 to play, but Chicago rallied with a 16-4 run to close the gap to 87-82 with 4:01 remaining. The Rockets quickly answered with Clint Capela’s alley-oop slam dunk on a feed by PJ Tucker.
The Rockets outscored the Bulls 21-7 in the third quarter to carry a 75-63 advantage into the final 12 minutes.
Harden, playing in his first game after missing three games because of a strained left hamstring, scored 11 unanswered points during the third quarter. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers, sank two free throws and made another 3-pointer to increase Houston’s lead from 60-59 to 71-59.
Chicago led 56-54 at the half. The score was even at 54 before LaVine hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to give the Bulls the advantage heading into the locker room.
The Bulls shot 55 percent (22 of 40) in the first half but only 38.9 percent (28 of 72) for the game. A woeful second half in which they shot 6 of 32 (18.8 percent) brought down their number.
Meanwhile, Houston shot 44.4 percent (20 of 45) before intermission and 42.2 percent (35 of 83) overall.
Harden delivered several highlight-reel passes among his seven assists. He broke through a double team and lobbed a pass toward Capela for a slam dunk in the first quarter. In the second, he fired a behind-the-back bounce pass toward the low post for Isaiah Hartenstein, who finished with an easy layup.
Houston improved to 3-1 on the road. Chicago fell to 1-5 at home.
—Field Level Media