James Harden scored 30-plus points for the sixth time in eight games, Clint Capela recorded his eighth double-double in nine games, and the Houston Rockets parlayed a balanced scoring attack into a 121-105 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
Harden led seven Rockets in double figures with 30 points, doing so on 9-for-16 shooting. He finished 6-for-11 on 3-pointers, adding six rebounds and seven assists to his ledger.
After the Bulls sliced what was an 18-point deficit to four points in the third quarter, Harden responded with two treys plus an alley-oop pass to Capela that enabled Houston to reclaim an 80-65 lead.
The Bulls dropped their sixth consecutive game and sixth in succession in the overall series with the Rockets. Zach LaVine paced Chicago with 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting while forward Jabari Parker added 21 points and 12 rebounds. Second-year forward Lauri Markkanen, slowed by a right elbow injury, made his season debut for the Bulls, posting 10 points in 25 minutes.
Capela chipped in 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds while Eric Gordon scored 15 off the bench. Chris Paul also produced a double-double with 12 points and 13 assists for Houston.
The Bulls, dead last in the league in net rating as they have now lost 10 of 11 games, appeared primed for another blowout loss in the first quarter. Houston cashed in a number of opportunities at the rim, with Chicago offering little resistance against dribble penetration.
The Rockets recorded 20 points in the paint in the opening period, the foundation of their 60.9-percent shooting in the frame. Harden paced the early onslaught by converting all three of his attempts in the restricted area en route to 15 points on just seven field-goal attempts.
Houston extended to a 38-19 lead on a Gordon reverse layup inside the final minute of the first, but the Bulls managed a rally in the second quarter once they finally siphoned off access to the paint.
While Houston mustered only two baskets inside the arc in the second quarter, LaVine and Parker carried the Bulls back into contention. That duo combined for 24 points by the intermission as Chicago clawed back to within seven. LaVine added a buzzer-beating jumper to close the half, and when Parker completed a three-point play at the 8:49 mark of the third, the Bulls trailed 62-58. Harden then took a cue to resume his dominance, and Houston pulled away.
—Field Level Media