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Time: 8:00 PM ET
These two teams may not seem particularly elite, but both have had their own surprises so far this year.
For the Rockets, their biggest surprise is James Harden, who is averaging 25.6 points and 5.6 assists a game and seems to have established himself as one of the best shooting guards in the league right now.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have seen a lot of guys step up in Derrick Rose's absence. Joakim Noah has been huge, averaging 13.5 points and 10.6 rebounds a game to go along with a triple-double, and Luol Deng leads the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game.
The Bulls will play this game coming off a 92-75 road defeat against the Hawks, but they have still been hot recently. The Bulls are 7-3 in their last 10 games and they have notched wins against the Knicks, 76ers, Nets and Celtics in December.
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls often struggle to score, as shown by the fact that they score just 92.8 points per game, which is ranked 26th in the league. They are also without Richard Hamilton, a player who likely could have provided a scoring boost in this game. But even without those two, the Rockets still have of the league's worst defenses, so the Bulls should have no problem scoring in this game.
One player who may have a big game for the Bulls is Luol Deng. We may see Noah with another big game too, but former Chicago Bull Omer Asik is at least a good defender. Chandler Parsons, on the other hand, will likely struggle to contain Deng, and Deng may finish this game with at least 20 or 25 points.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are one of the NBA's top scoring offenses, but James Harden is clearly their biggest threat. Down low, Omer Asik and Marcus Morris will likely be controlled offensively by good Chicago post defenders in Noah, Gibson and even Boozer.
You can expect a huge game out of Harden. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are not fantastic defensive players, and it would not be the least bit surprising to see Harden score 30 or 35 points. However, Houston is just 3-7 on the road this season, and an overwhelming Chicago defense will ultimately lead the Bulls to an easy victory.
Prediction: 99-92 Bulls