The Houston Rockets, even without James Harden, have their style and can execute it very well. It can fluctuate at times, but they managed to put on impressive runs to start and end this game, ultimately putting away the Bulls comfortably with a 116-107 margin.
Houston started off the game hitting 8 of their first 10 threes, usually after beautiful ball movement or in transition.
While the Bulls were usually posting up Robin Lopez or something, and he managed to pull off both an offensive and defensive 3-second violation. With Nikola Mirotic out sick, Cristiano Felicio came in as the backup center and didn’t fare well either.
Felicio is struggling. Got torched by Chris Paul, second time he's fouled him on a make. pic.twitter.com/NlmRuykwjQ— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 9, 2018
Bobby Portis was the other backup big, of course, and he came in shooting, also figuring some mid-range ball-pounding would get them out of their hole.
And it eventually did! It helped the Rockets went for a stretch where they shot 2/16 from three, and I don’t think the Bulls got much better defensively but I was also fast-forwarding a lot. I did see a lot of Portis flexing, Denzel Valentine trash talk, and Kris Dunn did heat up a bit. If anything we got this hilarious flop from Chris Paul, which righteously kept him from a deserved foul call.
no call here. Could have gone either way, but looks like a push off to me pic.twitter.com/nK8VI5qkSV— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) January 9, 2018
The Bulls even took the lead for a time in the 3rd quarter. But then Houston got back to making, and had a 10 point lead entering the 4th, which swelled to an unmanageable Bulls deficit. The Bulls did ‘stop’ the Rockets from reaching the arbitrary record of 124 points, which would’ve been the 5th straight. Do you get any McDonald's with that?
Houston wound up hitting 20 three-pointers (the Bulls actually shot a better percentage), capped in that late run by a Trevor Ariza make over Denzel Valentine that went high off the glass. Ariza had 6 makes, Gerald Green had 4 (and a couple dunks...get out the way Bobby!), PJ Tucker hit a couple, and the combo of Paul and Eric Gordon combined to go 7-23 but both had more points than shots, which is more than you can say for Kris Dunn or Justin Holiday (ok, Holiday technically had 11 points on 10 attempts). It was not a nice time to be a Bulls center, as Lopez didn’t make a field goal in 15 minutes while Felicio had 3 fouls in only 7. Clint Capela was potentially overlooked in the Rockets distance shooting: 15 points on 5-7 shooting, 16 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Chicago only had 3 offensive rebounds the entire game even going usually with the bigger lineup. Here’s him dunking over Portis.