THE FACTS: The Chicago Bulls know it is too early in the season to panic, but they have entered unfamiliar territory. They are under .500 after dropping three consecutive regular-season games for the first time in the coach Tom Thibodeau era.
James Harden scored 28 points and collected five steals, while Patrick Patterson poured in a season-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to guide the Houston Rockets past Chicago 93-89 on Wednesday night at Toyota Center. Chandler Parsons added his fourth double-double (18 points, career-best 13 boards) in his last five games for Houston (5-7), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Nate Robinson netted 13 of his season-high 21 points in the fourth quarter, but that was not enough to save the Bulls (5-6) from another disappointing result. Carlos Boozer finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Luol Deng scored 19, but was limited to 3-for-14 shooting from the floor after halftime.
QUOTABLE: "Obviously, you hate the losing part of it. I'm more concerned with us doing things the right way and focusing in on our improvement. ... We can't pick and choose. We have to be tied together the entire time. We can't do the easy thing. We have to do the tough thing."
-- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau
THE STAT: The Rockets' franchise-record 33rd straight victory when limiting an opponent to less than 90 points coincided with Chicago's first three-game losing streak in the regular season since a 10-game slide Feb. 27-March 19 of 2010.
TURNING POINT: After Robinson capped a 9-1 Chicago spurt with a 3-pointer to give the Bulls an 84-79 lead with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter, Houston's defense refused to budge another inch. The Rockets held the Bulls scoreless for the next 4:30, which was more than enough time for them to rip off a 7-0 run -- capped by a Toney Douglas trey from the top of the key with 1:11 remaining to regain the lead.
QUOTABLE II: "Our defense kept them away from doing what they really wanted to do [in the final five minutes of the game], and that caused Nate to go one-on-one at the end of the shot clock."
-- Patrick Patterson
HOT: Patterson has made significant strides defensively this season, and his offensive production is also on the rise over the last four games. Patterson has netted at least 14 points in four consecutive contests, averaging 17.0 points on 52.6 percent (30-for-57) shooting during this period.
NOT: The Bulls' backups sparked Chicago during the second quarter for a change after it fell behind 30-23 early in the period. The Bulls held Houston without a field goal for nearly six minutes while also forcing four turnovers during a 16-1 run that put Chicago ahead, 39-31.
GOOD MOVE: After allowing each of their last three opponents to connect on at least 40.0 percent of their 3-point attempts, the Rockets avoided collapsing on penetrating ball-handlers. They also made solid defensive rotations around the perimeter Wednesday to limit the Bulls to a season-worst 12.5 percent (2-for-16) effort from behind the arc.
BAD MOVE: Chicago failed to concentrate and make the most of its attempts at the charity stripe, where it finished a dismal 11-for-19 (57.9 percent). Four different Bulls converted on no more than half of their free-throw attempts.
NOTABLE: Houston played without reserves Carlos Delfino (strained groin) and Cole Aldrich (sprained right ankle). ... The Rockets have won two in a row over Chicago after losing each of the previous five meetings with the Bulls. ... Houston improved to 2-7 this season when Harden scores less than 30. ... The Rockets committed a season-worst 23 turnovers.
UP NEXT: For the Bulls, Saturday @ Milwaukee, Monday vs. Milwaukee, Wednesday vs. Dallas. For the Rockets, Friday vs. New York, Tuesday vs. Toronto, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City.