Harden propels Rockets past Bulls

James Harden shook off a flu bug to score 28 points, while the Houston Rockets orchestrated a strong late finish to pull out a 93-89 win over the Chicago Bulls at the Toyota Center.

Two nights after being limited to six points and 17 1/2 minutes by his sickness in a loss at Utah, Harden made good on 8-of-14 field goal attempts and added five steals while being on the court for over 42 minutes.

His efforts, along with a critical 10-0 run down the stretch, enabled the Rockets to put an end to a three-game skid.

"I think defensively we played pretty well. That's what kept us in the game," Harden said. "I think offensively, at times, we struggled. Our defense really locked in at key moments in the game and even down the stretch."

Patrick Patterson chipped in 20 points and Chandler Parsons amassed 18 points and a career-best 13 rebounds for Houston, while Toney Douglas had 11 points and sank a clutch long-range jumper that gave Houston an 86-84 lead with 1:11 remaining.

Chicago owned an 84-79 edge after Nate Robinson buried a 3-pointer with 4:42 left to play, but proceeded to miss its next 11 shots. The cold spell led to the Bulls dropping their third consecutive contest, the franchise's longest slide since a 10-game drought from Feb. 27 - Mar. 19, 2010.

Robinson paced Chicago with 21 points, 13 of which came in the final 10 minutes, with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each amassing double-doubles in a losing cause.

Deng ended with 19 points and 10 boards, while Boozer pulled down 15 rebounds to go along with 13 points.

Harden started Houston's deciding surge by putting back a Patterson miss with 3:43 to go, and Parsons made a pair of free throws nearly two minutes later to pull the Rockets within 84-83.

After an off-balance jumper by Robinson badly missed the mark on the other end, Douglas then drained a 25-footer off a Parsons screen to send Houston in front.

The Bulls continued to miss shots, and Douglas and Harden combined to go 3- of-4 from the line in the closing seconds to seal the win, though the Bulls made it interesting when Deng knocked down a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left to make it a 91-89 score.

"Our defense is not what it used to be," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "It's not what it was last year that's for sure. We have to do better. Losing three in a row is unacceptable. We're better than that."

Chicago made the game's first big run, an 20-3 spurt over a six-plus minute stretch in the second quarter that turned a seven-point deficit into a 43-33 advantage late in the first half. Robinson netted six points to help fuel the outburst.

The Bulls were up by as many as 11 before the break, but Harden hit a 3- pointer and a step-back jumper as part of a 7-0 flurry that closed the gap to 46-42 at intermission.

Harden would put Houston ahead by a 49-47 count early in the third quarter with another long-distance bucket, and the game remained a tight one over the majority of the second half.

Chicago appeared to regain control midway through the fourth quarter behind Robinson, who scored the final seven points of a 9-2 tear that accounted for the Bulls' five-point margin that preceded Houston's comeback.

Game Notes

The victory extended Houston's franchise-record winning streak when holding an opponent under 90 points to 33 consecutive games, a run that dates back to March of 2010 and is the longest active one in the NBA ... Parsons' previous career high in rebounds was 12, set against Portland on Nov. 3 ... Rockets center Omer Asik, who joined Houston as a free agent over the summer after two seasons with the Bulls, recorded four points, six rebounds and three blocks against his former club ... Rockets swingman Carlos Delfino missed his fourth consecutive game due to a groin injury.