James Harden had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, and the Houston Rockets used a dominant third quarter for a 115-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
Ryan Anderson added 21 points as the Rockets avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Houston outscored Chicago 36-14 in the third quarter – after scoring the last nine points of the first half – on 13-of-22 shooting, including 7 of 12 on 3-pointers. Harden had six points, six assists and five rebounds in the period.
Dwyane Wade had 21 points in 25 minutes for the Bulls after missing the previous two games with a left quad strain. Chicago has dropped four straight.
Despite not having played in nearly a week, Wade was sharp at the start. He scored 12 points in seven minutes – making all five of his field-goal attempts – to help Chicago to a 33-23 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulls were still up 49-47 with just under three minutes to go in the second when things fell apart. Houston scored the final nine points of the first half for a 56-49 halftime edge and then had the first eight of the third for a run of 17 straight and a 64-49 lead.
The lead was 80-51 with just under five minutes to go in the third. The rout was on and the United Center crowd serenaded the home team with boos.
Rockets: Harden scored seven of his 13 first-half points in the final 2:08, including an impressive four-point play. He was fouled as Chicago’s Michael Carter-Williams fought through a screen. Despite being knocked off balance, Harden flung the ball toward the basket and banked it in.
Bulls: In the previous four games, they averaged 15.8 points (on 28.6 percent shooting) in the fourth quarter. Coach Fred Hoiberg is hopeful the return of Wade will improve those numbers, although the point was moot with the blowout Friday. “He’s been one of the guys in the fourth quarter that’s been able to take over games at times,” Hoiberg said.