Chicago Bulls Look to Unwrap James Harden, Houston Rockets

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

There will be a bearded man, dressed in red, running through Chicago on Christmas night. Santa who? Think again. Powered by James Harden, the Houston Rockets will bring their high-scoring offense to clash with the grinch-like defense of the Chicago Bulls in the fourth course offering on the NBA holiday menu.

The Bulls are 8-4 in December while Houston has won five of their last six games. The Rockets beat Chicago 93-89 in this season’s first matchup in November.

Harden goes hard as the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer with 25.6 points per game. After a sluggish start to the season, Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin has been rolling with confidence after his victorious return to Madison Square Garden last week in the team’s win over the New York Knicks.

Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich will need to buckle up on defense against Lin, leading the corps of Chicago defenders. Marco Belinelli draws the night’s tough assignment, and Luol Deng will likely spend time on him as well, but we all know Harden is going to get his buckets like it’s a Drew League game. The objective is minimizing other Houston players like Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson who have been posting big numbers on the low.

And then there’s Omer Asik, whose game has truly come to life with the monster minutes–and contract– provided by the Rockets. This will be his first return to the United Center playing against his old Bulls crew. Asik is averaging over 10 points and 11 rebounds per game.

While fans everywhere still reminisce over the glorious Bench Mob like Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, it’s business as usual for all involved. Chicago’s frontline of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and backup Taj Gibson must keep their former comrade at bay on the boards or run the risk of being clowned at home on Christmas. And that’s never a good look.

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