The Bulls Monday were shot down, shot out and shot up by the Houston Rockets in a 116-107 Rockets victory.
The Bulls were stunned early, falling behind by 21 points in the first quarter before recovering with a late second quarter run. But the three balling Rockets are relentless with their record level three-point shooting and pulled away in the four quarter.
The Bulls fell to 14-27. Houston is 28-11.
The Bulls were led by Bobby Portis with 22 points. Kris Dunn after a slow start finished with 19 points and seven assists. Denzel Valentine had 19 points and eight rebounds. Lauri Markkanen had 16 points and eight rebounds and Justin Holiday 11 points. Houston was 20 of 54 on three pointers. The Rockets out rebounded the Bulls 51-37 and 11-3 on offensive rebounds.
Nikola Mirotic was out with the effects of the flu. Leading scorer James Harden was out for the Rockets with a hamstring problem. Nene and Luc Mbah a Moute also were out. Zach LaVine appears close to playing for the Bulls, who are expected Tuesday to make an announcement regarding LaVine. Houston is the second highest scoring team in the NBA shooting a record number of three pointers. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that the Rockets came out with boosters firing to a 34-13 lead, Houston with eight of 13 threes in the first quarter. Which at least was about their average attempts. Eric Gordon had 13 points and Trevor Ariza nine as both made a trio of threes. The Rockets went on to lead 35-22 after the first quarter, specializing in penetration off the dribble and passing for threes and threes in transition. Holiday had six points for the Bulls with a pair of threes. The Bulls rocketed back into the game in the second quarter with the aggression of Portis. Coach Fred Hoiberg went with more energy, and Portis answered with 11 second quarter points, making five of six shots with a few power flexes. The Bulls also helped cool the Rockets from three as Houston missed nine of 11 threes in the quarter. After trailing 53-42 with 4:19 left in the first half, the Bulls cut the Houston lead to 55-52 on a Portis dunk on a Dunn pass with 1:24 left. Houston went on to lead 60-55 at halftime. Portis had 16 in the half and Markkanen nine. Gerald Green had 17 for Houston with three of five threes.
The Bulls went on to take their first lead since 3-0 early in the third quarter with a Valentine three and a pair of Dunn scores. The Bulls still led 68-67 on a Valentine scoop when Houston hit the Bulls with a 14-3 run with their relentless shooting and Green getting a running start for a powerful dunk. The Bulls went into a timeout with 3:15 left in the third quarter trailing 81-71. The Rockets went into the fourth quarter leading 87-76 with Green and Chris Paul threes to close the quarter. The Bulls had chances early in the fourth quarter, forcing three turnovers in five Houston possessions. But the Bulls matched that with six straight empty possessions, a pair of turnovers on fast breaks, forced long shots as Houston got a three from Ryan Anderson for a 94-79 lead with 7:45 left. With the Bulls unable to play Robin Lopez much with Houston's shooting game, the Rockets had a big edge on the boards, especially with offensive rebounds and rolled out to a 106-88 lead with five minutes remaining.