Bulls fall to Rockets, 115-94

The Bulls Friday lost another double digit first quarter lead and were blown apart by the Houston Rockets in a 115-94 Bulls loss.

The Rockets exploded with a 24-2 run to open the second half, 33-2 overall into the middle of the third quarter that gave Houston a 29-point lead and, effectively, the game. The Rockets would lead by 31 after three quarters.

The loss dropped the Bulls to 31-34 with a season most fourth consecutive loss. Houston rocketed to 45-21.

The Bulls were led by Dwyane Wade with 21 points, all in the first half. Jimmy Butler had 16 points. Through three quarters they were the only Bulls to score in double figures. Cameron Payne had 11 points, all in the fourth quarter.

James Harden had 19 points and 13 assists for Houston and Ryan Anderson 21 points. Lou Williams had 18.

The Bulls had Wade back after missing two games with a lower body injury, and that’s a complete Wade. On the season, Wade is averaging his season most points with two days off and shooting his best percentages, more than 50 percent on threes, with three or more days off. And Wade was ready, scoring 12 of the Bulls first 18 points as the Bulls ran out to a 20-11 lead halfway through the first quarter. Wade finished the first quarter five for five shooting for 12 points in seven minutes as the Bulls led 33-23 after one quarter. It was another revolving lineup with Michael Carter-Williams in early for defense on James Harden after Butler drew a quick foul. Carter-Williams was aggressive with four quick points on drives. The Bulls shot 61 percent in the quarter and had 11 second chance points and a 20-6 edge on inside scoring. The Rockets were three of 12 on threes in the first quarter as Harden sustained a minor sprained ankle late in the quarter. But with the Bulls moving to the reserve group and having 12 players in the game before midway through the second quarter, the Rockets blasted back into the game, the Bulls hoisting threes off target to open the second quarter. The Rockets opened with a 9-2 run to get within 35-32 by moving and swinging the ball for drives to the basket with the Bulls off balance. Coach Fred Hoiberg rushed Wade back in to steady the Bulls. Harden did return with the Rockets trailing 42-41 and the Rockets taking their first lead with five minutes left in the half. Houston then fought back going to the basket as they shot six of 22 on threes in the half. The Bulls were just three of 15 as they got a bit seduced into the long game, which is not their specialty. The Bulls also got a little loose with the ball, committing 11 first half turnovers. So even with Houston six of 22 on threes in the first half, the Bulls trailed 56-49 at halftime after the Rockets closed the second quarter with a pair of Harden threes, one a four-point play. Wade had 21 points in the first half.

The Rockets then blasted the Bulls to start the second half, an 8-0 run that gave the Rockets a 64-49 lead and a quick Bulls timeout. And then it really got bad as the Rockets starting making those threes and it an 80-51 Houston lead midway through the third quarter and silenced the United Center. Anderson blitzed the Bulls with a trio of three pointers in the quarter as the Rockets led 92-63 after three quarters, a 36-14 third quarter blitz knocking out the Bulls. Butler was the only Bulls starter to score in the third quarter as the Bulls shot 23.8 percent and the Rockets made seven of 12 threes. The Bulls were two of 11 on threes in the quarter and five of 27 on threes through three quarters.