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Rockets take off in Chicago, snap Bulls streak


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls have not lost back-to-back regular season games since Feb 5 and 7 of last year. It's a streak that coursed through 86 games, just nine shy of the NBA record set by the Utah Jazz between 1997 to 1999.

Sadly, though, all good things come to an end. And the Bulls found that out Monday night at the United Center, where the Houston Rockets came back from the grave to deliver a 99-93 upset.

Barely 24 hours earlier, the Bulls got spanked by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 92-78, at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma.

As he scoured through the debris of this latest debacle, a visibly irked Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau lamented his team's lackluster effort and told reporters, "No edge, no defense. We had turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers."

Indeed, the Bulls played tired and sloppy. They surrendered an uncharacteristically high 99 points on 42-of-89 field goals (47.2 percent). And they had 19 turnovers, which allowed the Rockets to dig out of a 15-point deficit late in the second quarter.

After falling behind,18-10, midway through the first quarter, the Bulls had one of those spirited runs that gave them the best record in the NBA all season long. Their defense tightened, the passing got crisper, and when John Lucas drilled a jumper with 1:43 left before halftime, the Bulls looked safely ahead, 49-34.

BUT THE second half was Rockets all the way as Houston went on a 31-19 third quarter run that wiped out the Bulls' lead.

And in the fourth quarter, Chase Budinger, a little known second-year pro out of Arizona, stole the show. The 6-foot-7, 218-pound forward swished a succession of 3s, including one that gave the Rockets an 84-72 edge, knocking the wind out of the Bulls.

Goran Dragic led the Rockets with 21 points and 5 assists while Luis Scola had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Budinger finished with 13 and Marcus Camby added 12 and 11 rebounds.

Derrick Rose missed his 11th straight start and 21st game overall. Without the MVP, the Bulls shot fairly well -- 40-of-84 field goals (47.2 percent) -- but they missed a clutch shooter and their main playmaker when the going got really tough in the final stanza.

Luol Deng led the Bulls with 24 points while Carlos Boozer flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Joakim Noah chipped in 15, but no other Bull scored in double figures, highlighting their lack of offense and uneven play.

The Bulls, who kept the NBA's best record with a 42-13 slate, have the next two days off before hosting the Boston Celtics Thursday night at the United Center. (Fahkouri Amjid)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Fakhouri Amjid.


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