The season is coming to a rapid close, and both the Rockets and Bulls are the ninth seeds in their respective conferences. Chicago, who pulled off a 103-100 victory last night, is just one game behind the Pacers for the eighth seed with seven games to go. Houston fell to 37-39 after the loss, and also fell out of the seventh seed.

Both teams were competing hard up until halftime, and the score was knotted at 52 all heading into the break. Nikola Mirotic provided another great spark off the bench, and would lead the Bulls with 21 points at the half. This included 14 in the second quarter.

Jimmy Butler, who was the subject of trade rumors that afternoon, recorded just six first-half points, and backcourt mate Derrick Rose didn’t even attempt a shot as he was having elbow issues.

James Harden was his usual self and registered 15 points in the half to lead the Rockets. Patrick Beverley had 12 and five assists, and Dwight Howard had eight rebounds. Michael Beasley had ten points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action off the bench.

Out of the break, the Rockets came out firing. Trevor Ariza led the way in the third with nine points coming on 3/3 from downtown. James Harden recorded five points and five assists as the Rockets pulled out in front of the Bulls, outscoring them 28-19 in the quarter. Jimmy Butler, however, provided almost all of the offense for the Bulls. He made four of their seven field goals and accounted for 13 of their 19 points.

Houston then fell apart in the fourth. Chicago outscored them 32-20 in the final period, and 29 of the Bulls’ 32 points came from bench players. Justin Holiday and Nikola Mirotic led with eight and seven points, respectively. Doug McDermott was huge as well, pulling in six rebounds and adding four crucial points.

Much of the same was true for Houston, and Michael Beasley was responsible for 50% of their offense. The Kansas State product scored ten of Houston’s 20 points and added in five rebounds. The Rockets as a team shot just 6/21 (29%) from the field; the Bulls shot 10/16 (63%).

Nikola Mirotic had a game-high 28 points, and Jimmy Butler was right behind him with 21 and added eight rebounds and six assists.

James Harden led the Rockets with 24 points and eight assists; Patrick Beverley had 22 points, and Michael Beasley recorded 20 points and 11 boards.

The Bulls’ next game is at home against the Pistons on Saturday–Derrick Rose is questionable with an elbow injury. The Rockets remain at home to face the Thunder on Sunday.

Around The League

LeBron James scored 24 points and had 11 dimes, passed Dominique Wilkins for 12th on the all-time scoring list, and the Cavaliers beat the Nets 107-87. Kevin Love added 19 points and ten rebounds in the effort and Thaddeus Young had 18 points and 8 boards to lead Brooklyn.

Steven Adams’ tip-in with 27 seconds left lifted the Thunder over the Clippers, 119-117. LA, who rested Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick, were led by Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers‘ 32 points each. Kevin Durant had another great performance, going for 31p/8r; Westbrook flirted with another triple-double and tallied 26p/8r/11a.

Al-Farouq Aminu had a career-high 28 points on 6/11 from three as the Blazers edged out Boston, 116-109. Aminu added in three steals and nine rebounds. For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas had 22 and Avery Bradley had 20 to lead the scoring.

Scores

BKN 87 – CLE 107 

CHI 103 – HOU 100

ORL 114 – IND 94

DEN 95 – NOLA 101

LAC 117 – OKC 119

BOS 109 – POR 116