Notebook: Rockets 120, Bulls 97



Posted Dec 25, 2012 11:34 PM

By Kent McDill, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: With four starters getting at least 20 points, the Houston Rockets scored easily and often on the way to a 120-97 win over the host Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day. James Harden had 26 points for the Rockets, who have won four in a row for the first time this season. Omer Asik, the former Bulls backup center, scored 20 points and 18 rebounds for Houston (15-12). Backup point guard Nate Robinson scored 27 points for the Bulls (15-12), all in the second half, as the Bulls played catch-up.

QUOTABLE: "If you can move your body and the ball, it's hard for the defense to get locked in."

-- Houston coach Kevin McHale

THE STAT: The Rockets went 13-for-18 in the second quarter, and 11 of those 13 baskets came in the paint. That opened a 17-point halftime lead.

THE STAT II: The Rockets outrebounded the Bulls 45-31, and shot 56 percent from the field to just 45 percent for the Bulls.

TURNING POINT: The 12-4 Houston run to start the second quarter opened the lead up to 13 points and the Bulls got no closer than nine the rest of the quarter. The closest the Bulls got in the second half was 15 points, and they trailed by as much as 35.

QUOTABLE II: "It's a good example of what we can do."

-- Houston guard Jeremy Lin

INJURY UPDATE: Bulls guard Rip Hamilton is reportedly getting close to returning from a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. He has missed 11 games so far.

HOT: Asik was 9-for-13 from the field and his 13 defensive rebounds were almost double that of his Bulls counterpart, Joakim Noah, who had seven defensive boards and a total of nine rebounds.

NOT: Bulls forward Carlos Boozer scored twice on his first two shots of the game, then went 1-for-9 the rest of the game.

QUOTABLE III: "If you are not right, and don't have an edge, you are not going to win without playing without the right amount of intensity."

-- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

GOOD MOVE: Rarely one to give up, the Bulls' Thibodeau pulled Luol Deng (the league leader in minutes played per game) after 90 seconds of the fourth quarter, and did not play Noah (who ranks second in minutes played per game) at all in the final period.

BAD MOVE: Despite the huge lead the entire second half, Houston's McHale played only eight players until the game's final 3:30, when he put in his final four subs.

ROOKIE WATCH: Bulls guard Marquis Teague, whose playing time dropped again after Kirk Hinrich returned from injury, played 17-plus minutes, scored eight points and had three assists with only one turnover.

NOTABLE: In the last two games, the Rockets beat two of the best defensive teams in the league, scoring 121 against Memphis to win by 25 and scoring 120 and winning by 23 against the Bulls. ... The Bulls have lost back-to-back games by 17 and 23 points. The Bulls play eight straight games against Eastern Conference opponents now.

UP NEXT: For the Bulls, Wednesday @ Pacers,Saturday vs. Wizards, Monday vs. Bobcats. For the Rockets, Wednesday @ Timberwolves, Friday @ Spurs, Saturday vs. Thunder.