The Houston Rockets were the next to hop on the Chicago Bulls losing train, having no problem getting a 109-94 win over a fractured team, as Jeremy Lin continues to struggle with back spasms keeping him out of games and James Harden playing on a bad ankle. Dwight Howard, allowed to shoot without going to the line, took care of business for them.
Howard scored 23 points on 11-of-14 from the field, adding 9 rebounds. He went to the line only once, hitting his only shot, facing a discouraged and maybe depressed Bulls’ frontcourt, losing for a third straight game and for the 12th time in 15 games. Remember, this is a team many picked to win the Eastern conference upon hearing the news that Derrick Rose was coming back. Even without Rose and the rotation of injuries plaguing the team, things shouldn’t look this bad, right?
James Harden held himself back, scoring 19 points on “only” 7-of-13 from the field. This wasn’t a changed Harden taking smarter shots and moving the ball more. He took the same ill advised jumpers and difficult penetration shots he usually does, only they mostly fell for him. Patrick Beverley kept his up & down trend going on, this time enjoying facing someone like D.J. Augustin and not Kirk Hinrich (also back problems), scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 from the field.
But the Rockets are interesting at the moment for their off-court dealings. Omer Asik hasn’t been playing for some time now (since December 2), sitting in street clothes, no longer even presumably injured. According to sources from around the league, his trade is coming any day now, and both sides don’t feel like putting an effort to get him on the floor. The worry about Lin might be that these back problems are also a bit exaggerated, and the Rockets are trying to cook a trade for him as well.
Lin has played only twice in the last 10 games, missing six with a bruised knee and now having his back bother him. Reports from the loss to the Kings suggested he was ready to play, having the spasms attack him right before the beginning. Against teams like the Bulls there was no need for anything more, especially with Howard and Parsons (19 points, 9 rebounds) having such an easy time against a team that still hasn’t figured out what’s going on with them this season. Tougher challenges, especially with the fragile and unstable Harden-Beverley tandem, it’s hard to believe that even Kevin McHale, back after missing the last three games, won’t think that Lin could somehow provide a little bit of help to his team.