The Houston Rockets had little trouble pounding a depleted Golden State Warriors squad on Wednesday and are developing a rhythm as they prepare for a two-game road trip. James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Rockets will try to continue to get comfortable with each other when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
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Houston made one of the biggest moves of the offseason by trading for Westbrook to pair alongside Harden in the backcourt and the two high-usage superstars are having more trouble helping the team on the defensive end than finding a way to divide up the shots on offense. The Rockets are 29th in the league in scoring defense entering play on Friday, allowing an average of 121.8 points, but were solid on the defensive end while beating Memphis 107-100 on Monday and limited the Warriors to 39.6 percent shooting in Wednesday's win. The Bulls won't test that Houston defense with the most explosive offense in the league but are taking some steps forward and shot 50 percent from the floor in a 113-93 triumph at Atlanta on Wednesday, one day after squandering a big lead in a home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. "I think we were all frustrated the way the last game went, but this league is all about that," Chicago swingman Tomas Satoransky told reporters. "We almost beat one of the best teams, playing 36 minutes of good basketball. Then you have to bounce back in another city. I think we did that today and hopefully this can be a turnaround game for us."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet Southwest (Houston), NBCS Chicago-plus
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (5-3): Harden has yet to see a decline in scoring while playing with Westbrook and leads the league at an average of 36.5 points. The superstar posted his second consecutive double-double with 36 points and 13 assists in Wednesday's triumph while Westbrook collected 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but Houston is still working on getting its defense to play with consistent effort. "It's just a matter of heart," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters, "and will and communication and getting it done. We can't make adjustments until they play as hard as they can."
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-6): Satoransky delivered a career-high 27 points in Wednesday's win to go with eight assists and seven rebounds and feels like Chicago is moving in the right direction. "We are trying to get there," Satoransly told reporters. "This definitely helps get you in the direction you want to be. ... You just keep going. We are trying to figure it out as soon as possible. We are in a good direction now." Power forward Lauri Markkanen shot under 50 percent from the floor in seven consecutive games before scoring 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a season-best 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, in Wednesday's victory.
1. Bulls SF Otto Porter Jr. (foot) left Wednesday's game and is questionable.
2. Rockets SG Eric Gordon (hamstring) sat out Wednesday and is day-to-day.
3. Houston is riding a six-game winning streak in the series.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
no tickets found.
- WristEarly Jan | out
Felicio suffered a non-displaced fracture of the trapezoid bone in his right wrist, and it is expected that he will be out four to eight weeks.
- AnkleProb Thurs | probable
LaVine is expected to face the Bucks on Thursday despite a right ankle sprain.
- FootOut indefinitely | out
Porter is sidelined with a left foot sprain. There is no timetable for return.
- ThumbProb Thurs | probable
Carter Jr. is projected to suit up Thursday against the Bucks despite a left thumb sprain.
- ObliqueProb Tues | probable
Markkanen is dealing with a sore oblique but is expected to play Tuesday versus the Knicks.
- ThumbProb Tues | probable
Carter Jr. is projected to suit up against the Knicks on Tuesday despite a left thumb strain.
- ThumbProb Sat | probable
Carter Jr. is tending to a left thumb sprain but is expected to face the Rockets on Saturday.
- ThumbProb Wed | probable
Carter Jr. is expected to take the court against the Hawks on Wednesday despite a left thumb sprain.
- BackDoub Fri | doubtful
House Jr. sat out the last game with a sacral contusion, and it is unlikely that he will play Friday versus the Pacers.
- KneeLate Dec | out
Gordon is expected to miss six weeks after having arthroscopic right knee surgery.
- FootEarly May | out
Green is expected to miss six months after having surgery to repair a left cuneiform fracture.
- ConcussionOut Fri | out
Capela exited the previous game due to a concussion, and he will not face the Pacers on Friday.
- AnkleProb Mon | probable
House Jr. has an ankle injury, but he is likely to play Monday versus the Pelicans.
- ShoulderProb Sat | probable
Capela is dealing with a sore right shoulder but is expected to suit up against the Bulls on Saturday.
- HamstringProb Sat | probable
Gordon was held out of the previous game due to soreness in his left hamstring, but it is likely that he will face the Bulls on Saturday.
- GroinOut indefinitely | out
Nene is sidelined with a left adductor strain, and there is currently no timetable for return.