HOUSTON, March 14 (Ticker) --
There must be something about a visit from the Chicago Bulls that seems to bring out the best in teams, including the Houston Rockets.
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scored 15 of his season-high 26 points in the first quarter as the Rockets tied a season high with their fourth straight win, a 121-91 rout of the Bulls.
Facing the league's most inept road team, the Rockets had little difficulties turning the game into a rout. Posey, who came in averaging 10 points per game, had four straight uncontested layups as Houston opened a 15-3 lead midway through the opening period.
"It felt good to have an opportunity to get a bunch of open shots," Posey said. "I'm just trying to get easy baskets in
transition. That's my game. It's been a long, long time (since I had a game like that)."
"Posey set the tone, he knocked the ball loose, got the running game going," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He's making an adjustment to a new team. His role is still being defined here."
Chicago elected to focus its defensive efforts on Steve Francis and rookie Yao Ming, and Posey turned that strategy into a mistake. After Posey made his first four baskets, Francis scored half of Houston's next 10 points to extend the bulge to 25-5 at the 3:43 mark.
Acquired by the Rockets from Denver in a three-way trade in December, Posey surpassed his season average with a three-pointer
with 28 seconds remaining in the quarter as Houston forced 11 turnovers in the first 12 minutes.
The Bulls tied a season low with 11 points in the first quarter and endured two droughts of at least three minutes.
Even as the Rockets missed their first five shots and committed a pair of turnovers in the first four minutes of the second
quarter, Chicago could not respond. The Bulls were even worse, misfiring on their first seven and eight of their first nine.
But Houston ended its shooting woes with three three-pointers by Glen Rice in a span of 2:19 that built its lead to 48-25 at the 4:07 mark.
The Bulls, whose 3-32 road record is the worst in the NBA, shot just 37.5 percent (15-of-40) in the first half, allowed the
Rockets to shoot 57 percent (20-of-35) and trailed 55-33 at halftime en route to their 12th straight road loss to a Western
Francis just missed a triple-double with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Yao scored 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter as Houston (34-30) moved into a tie with idle Phoenix for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. The teams meet Sunday.
"Guys played hard on both ends of the floor," Rice said. "The most important thing is we're doing it together. We can learn a lot from this game. The confidence is probably at a season high. Tonight we got our defense back on track and moved the
ball around as well as we have all year."
Jamal Crawford scored 23 points for the Bulls. According to Bulls coach Bill Cartwright, Crawford was the lone starter that showed up.
"Out of our first group, the only guy who was ready to play was Jamal," he said. "We've got to get ourselves ready to play
basketball. It's as simple as that. I'm very disappointed. We'll just have to regroup. We'll look at some film and see what
we've got to do."
Leading scorer Jalen Rose missed five of his first eight shots and finished with a quiet 15 points. Chicago committed 26 turnovers and allowed over 120 points in back-to-back regulation games for the first time since Feb. 7-8, 1990.
"We didn't start the game off right," Bulls forward Donyell Marshall said. "We just didn't have concentration."