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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 18th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Bulls (9-14) at Houston Rockets (16-9), 9:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets are back home briefly following a three-game western road trip and will entertain the Chicago Bulls Wednesday before departing the Lone Star State.

The Rockets will visit Indiana and Detroit on back-to-back nights this weekend and went 1-2 on the previous trek. The Rockets lost to Portland to kick off the trip, then defeated Golden State before dropping a 106-91 decision at Sacramento on Sunday.

James Harden scored 25 points and Dwight Howard ended with 13 and 10 rebounds. Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks scored 19 and 13 points, respectively, for Houston, which had won three of its previous four games and shot a miserable 7-of-27 from 3-point range.

"No knock on Sacramento, they are a talented young team, but we're striving for greatness. To reach greatness we have to look at the teams before us," Howard said.

Howard has recorded six straight double-doubles and 16 on the season. Harden has scored 20 or more points in five straight games and is averaging 25.8 points per game in his last four.

Houston is 10-3 as the host this season and has an extensive infirmary list for Wednesday. Harden (ankle), Parsons (toenail) and forward Terrence Jones (illness) are questionable versus the Bulls and guard Jeremy Lin (back) is listed as doubtful.

Chicago knows a thing or two about injuries and is already without former NBA MVP Derrick Rose (knee surgery). Guard Kirk Hinrich has been bothered by a back issue and is questionable for Wednesday.

The Bulls have two tough road games on the horizon against Houston and Oklahoma City and have struggled to the tune of a 3-11 record in their last 14 games. They lost both home games to Toronto and Orlando, and are coming off Monday's 83-82 setback to the Magic.

Luol Deng scored 26 points, while Mike Dunleavy and D.J. Augustin each netted 14 points. Joakim Noah added 13 to go along with eight rebounds for the Bulls, who are winless in the last four games at home.

"We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole early," said Dunleavy. "We fought back and battled, but we didn't make enough plays down the stretch."

Deng has been the lone bright spot lately when healthy and is averaging 25.0 points per game in his past eight. Deng is one of three players in the NBA (Kevin Durant, Kevin Love) to post averages of at least 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Chicago, which is third in opponents' scoring (92.4 ppg), has a 3-9 road record this season.

The Bulls lost both meetings with Houston a season ago. They have dropped three straight overall in this series and 14 of the past 20 matchups between the teams.

12/18 10:35:55 ET