GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER
Houston (2-5, 2-1 on the road) at Bulls (2-7, 1-4 at home)
TV: WGN TV: Neil Funk and Stacey King 7PM
RADIO: 670 THE SCORE: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 27 ppg. Rockets: Harden: 28 ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Carter, Felicio and Parker each with 6 per. Rockets: Capela: 11 per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Arcidiacono: 5 per. Rockets: Harden: 9 per
CCI PREVIEW: Two crushing defeats in as many games for the Bulls (Denver, Indiana) and with little prep time to get ready for the Houston Rockets, the Bulls must bring their "A" game as Houston welcomes back James Harden to the lineup. Harden has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury but is expected to be in the lineup tonight. The Rockets won at Brooklyn last night 119-111 ending a four game slide. Their two wins have come on the road.
This is a potent Houston team that led Golden State 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals when Chris Paul went down as the Warriors seized the moment and went on to win their third NBA title in four years. Who knows if Houston would have held off Golden State to advance but they were playing great ball before Paul was sidelined.
Carmelo Anthony is coming off the bench and is averaging 15 points per game in his 16th year. A healthy Harden and Chris Paul will give it their best shot at dethroning Steve Kerr's team but with ongoing rumors about a possible Jimmy Butler transaction it remains to be seen how this will play out. The Bulls need to keep their composure when the Rockets make runs and not get caught up on attempting to match one on one iso ball from Houston. The Bulls must be cognizant of those soft lobs to the rim.
CCI RECAP FROM THE UNITED CENTER:
Indiana: 107 Bulls 105.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Blakeney: 22 points. Pacers: Oladipo: 25 points.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Felicio: 9 Pacers: Oladipo: 14
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Payne: 8. Indiana: Oladipo : 5
The Bulls led by as many as 18 in the first half but as any NBA fan knows, a healthy lead with plenty of time left can evaporate in a hurry. Antonio Blakeney’s four point play tied the game at 105 before Darren Collison's mid range jumper lifted Indiana to a 107-105 lead. The Bulls just couldn’t make a game tying/winning shot as time expired. Antonio Blakeney had another sensational game coming off the bench scoring a career-high 22 points. His three point shooting has dramatically improved and he's supremely confident shooting the rock. Zach LaVine notched his ninth straight 20+ game. Cristiano Felicio nearly had a double-double. Justin Holiday is on fire from three point range draining five against the Pacers. Victor Oladipo showcased his enormous skill set leading his team in points, rebounds and assists. The Pacers will be in a ton of games this year because they play defense.
CCI GAME BALLS: Bulls: Blakeney who is emerging as the go to guy on the second unit for the Bulls. Indiana: Oladipo and Myles Turner who recorded six block shots.
CCI QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I thought we came out the gate (first quarter) with unbelievable energy... We just need to find a way to make one more play" - Coach Hoiberg.
CCI 24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES
Houston 119 Brooklyn 111. Vintage Chris Paul: 32 points 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Melo with a season-high 28 points. James Harden sat this one out but is expected to play tonight against the Bulls.
Golden State 116 Minnesota 99. The Warriors won their seventh straight and improve to 9-1.
OKC 134 Washington 111. The Wizards got some good news and some bad news. First, the good…Dwight Howard made his season debut, his first game in a Washington uniform scoring 13 of his 20 points in the first quarter. The not so good news…the Wizards surrendered 44 second quarter points losing their fifth straight and falling to 1-7. After starting 0-4, OKC now 4-4.
New York 118 Dallas 106. The Knicks youth movement is on...Allonzo Trier scored 19 of his career-high 23 in the second half. Another rookie Mitchell Robinson had his first double- double handing the Mavs their sixth straight loss.
Toronto 107 Phoenix 98. The Raps 8-1. The Suns 1-7. Enough said.
Los Angeles Clippers 120 Orlando 95. The Magic have lost four straight and ten straight in their series to LAC. The Clippers' Marcin Gortat's streak of 186 straight starts ended with a DNP-CD.
Memphis 110 Utah 100. The Jazz played without Donovan Mitchell (hamstring). The Grizzlies have won three straight.