With just under an hour before tip-off the Bulls announced that Jimmy Butler would be out with a heal contusion. From there pessimism only grew, as it seemed that Friday night’s game would be an onslaught by James Harden and company.
Instead it turned into a whole lot of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
In a game that featured large runs by both teams, it was Houston who came out on top in the end, beating Chicago by the final score of 121-117 in overtime.
The first half was mostly a back and forth contest between the Bulls and Rockets, with Chicago pounding the ball inside as Houston launched from beyond the arch. After missing a load of wide open three’s in the first part of the game, the Rockets heated up in the middle of the second quarter, pushing the lead to as much as 17 on a 26-7 run with Harden on the bench. It was at this point in the game where it appeared the wheels were coming off for the Bulls.
But Chicago fought back with the help of Taj Gibson being entirely too much for Houston’s Ryan Anderson to handle, and Michael Carter-Williams (who started after receiving four straight DNP-CD’s) strong finishes in the lane. The Bulls closed the score to 12, down 49-61 at half.
And as the second half started, it was Gibson’s play down low that propelled the Bulls back into the game, scoring eight points in the first five minutes, 12 in the quarter. The third period became a once again, a back and forth contest, with both teams trading leads numerous times throughout heading into the fourth quarter. Chicago outscored Houston 32-19 to take a two point lead, 81-79.
Chicago put Houston into the bonus with eight minutes left in the quarter, but the Bulls withstood the adversity. MCW may have had his best game of his career tonight, as there were several times throughout the game where he finished very tough layups around the basket resulting in and-one opportunities. Between he and Gibson, along with some solid play from Paul Zipser, and shot-making from Dwyane Wade, the Bulls pulled ahead to as much as eight, 108-100 with under four minutes to play.
However, as we’ve seen before with this team, that lead didn’t last for long as the Bulls were unable to close this one out. With 42 seconds remaining, and the Bulls up 108-106, a turnover from Zipser led to a step-back jumper from Harden to send the game into overtime. From there, Harden and some favorable officiating, pushed the Rockets to the win in the end, outscoring the Bulls 21-9 over the final eight plus minutes.
Chicago has two days off before they take on the KANGZ in Sacramento Monday night.