The visitors jumped on Chicago early, starting the game with a 23-5 lead. The Bulls made a mad dash late in the first half to take the lead heading into halftime, including two shot-clock beating threes by LaVine and this dunk off a Coby White steal:
But the second half was all Rockets. They outscored the Bulls by 11 in the third and 5 in the fourth, and had a 17 point lead with only a few minutes remaining, with the starters left out there to wear the loss.
It’s an extremely tough defeat and certainly a candidate for Chicago’s worst loss of the season. All of the good feelings created by the win streak has now quickly evaporated.
Houston shot a 55.6 percent from the field but more importantly 17/44 (38.6 percent) from deep, giving the Bulls typical deficit in that margin a -12 here.
The youngest rotation in the league, Houston saw all of their starters score in double digits including three guys scoring 20 points or more. They were led by a career-high 36 from Kevin Porter Jr. along with the 25 of Alpren Sengun. Jalen Green scored 24 as him and KPJ combined for 12 made three-pointers.
These Scoot highlights are WILD! pic.twitter.com/Q7s0uwwSom— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 27, 2022
The problem wasn’t the offensive side of the ball. A respectable 13 of their 35 three-point attempts with 27 assists on their 45 made baskets to only eight turnovers. DeMar DeRozan once again led the Bulls in scoring with 31 points, nine assists, and five rebounds. He was efficient from the field, going 11 of 18 along with nine made free throws. Zach LaVine had a slow start before catching fire near the end of the first half and finished 22 points (9-19 from the field) along with five assists. Nikola Vucevic had a hard time establishing his presence in the paint as he scored just 10 points and more shockingly, grabbed just three rebounds. He went just four of 13 from the field and one of five from three-point land. Patrick Williams played 40 minutes and scored 12 points while notching seven rebounds.
Coby White was the leader off the bench with 4 threes on his way to 14 points as Billy Donovan again only went four deep in terms of his reserves in the wake of several injuries to his rotation. Goran Dragic also contributed 12 points in his 17 minutes of action.
This was a bad loss for the Bulls, no other way around it. This was a golden opportunity for them to grab another win to start their stretch of home games. But they weren’t on sync defensively and got themselves in a hole early. No matter how well Chicago played offensively, they could not stop Houston on the other end. It makes for nearly impossible comeback if you keep leaking points defensively while trying to rally from double digits. It’s another step back after some progress was made during the winning streak. Now the Bulls are right back where they started at the beginning of last week: searching for answers.
Chicago has to shake this off quickly as the Milwaukee Bucks come to town on Wednesday.