NBA

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 - 8:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Bulls-Rockets Preview

Share This Story

   
 

Some uncharacteristically poor defense has plagued the Chicago Bulls during their current rough stretch.

How challenging their next test will be likely depends on the health of Houston's James Harden.

The visiting Bulls look to avoid losing three straight regular-season games for the first time in more than 2 1/2 years when they try to hand the Rockets a fourth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.

Over the past two seasons under coach Tom Thibodeau, Chicago has been the NBA's top defensive team allowing 89.9 points per game and holding opponents to 42.6 percent shooting. The Bulls (5-5) gave up 88.7 and held their foes to a 42.1 field-goal percentage while winning four of the first six but have since struggled to guard the basket.

In losing three of four, the Bulls have yielded an average 102.5 points. In Sunday's 102-94 loss to Portland, the Trail Blazers shot 49.4 percent.

"The defense right now, the intensity, we've got to get that part right,'' said Thibodeau, whose team is 1-2 on a five-game trip.

While Chicago has not dropped three in a row since a 10-game slide Feb. 27-March 19, 2010, it has not allowed 100 points in five straight contests since a 12-game stretch in the same season.

"We have to learn to put stops together," forward Luol Deng told the Bulls' official website. "I don't like comparing teams, but that's what we did well last year. The second unit came in and got stops in a row. Everyone talks about offense, but it's the stops we got. That's how we won games. And that's what we have to get back to."

One of the reasons for Chicago's solid defense and strong bench last year was the inside play of Omer Asik. Although the 7-foot center only averaged 1.0 blocks last season with the Bulls, he clogged the paint and forced opponents to adjust their shots.

After averaging 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2011-12, the Rockets signed Asik to a three-year, $25 million contract in July for his presence in the paint. He's off to a strong start with his new team, averaging 10.0 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Despite upgrading the defense, the Rockets (4-7) return home after allowing an average of 113.3 points and 48.3 percent shooting on a winless three-game trip. Although they're 2-3 in Houston, the Rockets are playing much better defensively in front of their home fans, allowing an average of 95.8 points.

Houston's biggest concern in the opener of a three-game homestand is if Harden has recovered from his bout with the flu. Averaging 24.2 points, Harden scored six on 1-of-6 shooting while lasting 17 minutes in Monday's 102-91 loss at Utah

"We shut him down, gave him some medicine and tried to get him ready for Wednesday,'' said Kelvin Sampson, who continues to serve at acting head coach as Kevin McHale still deals with a family emergency.

The Jazz opened the second quarter with a 13-0 run and Rockets, who shot a season-low 34.9 percent, were never able to recover. Patrick Patterson had a season-high 19 points and Jeremy Lin added 13 on 5-of-15 shooting.

After signing a lucrative deal with Houston, Lin is averaging 6.6 assists but 10.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting.

Nate Robinson, one of the many new faces on Chicago's bench this season, had 18 points as the Bulls shot 49.3 percent against the Trail Blazers, but committed 19 turnovers.

With star Derrick Rose recovering from a torn ACL, Deng is averaging a team-high 18.1 points and Joakim Noah a career-high 14.8 with 10.0 boards.

Deng scored 24 and Noah added 15 when Chicago's five-game winning streak over the Rockets ended with a 99-93 home loss April 2.

Tagged: Bulls, Rockets, Luol Deng, James Harden

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


NBA Videos

NBA considering mid-season Vegas tournament? Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Adam Silver confirms the NBA has engaged in early conversations about the possib...

LeBron and Blatt 'will work together beautifully' Posted: Jul 14, 2014
Cavaliers head coach David Blatt on LeBron James' decision to return to Clevelan...

LeBron's back and so are the Cavs Posted: Jul 11, 2014
FOX Sports 1's Gary Payton weighs-in on LeBron's decision to return to Cleveland...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    adidas Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers Revolution 30 Performance Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Clippers/browse/featuredproduct/491845/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_491000/ff_491845_xl.jpg&w=100 59.95 adidas Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers Revolution 30 Performance Jersey - Red
    adidas LeBron James Miami Heat Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey-Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Heat/browse/featuredproduct/498609/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_498000/ff_498609_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas LeBron James Miami Heat Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey-Black
    adidas Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Knicks/browse/featuredproduct/620470/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_620000/ff_620470_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 adidas Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey..
    Mitchell & Ness San Antonio Spurs Black Solid Script Snapback Adjustable Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Antonio_Spurs/browse/featuredproduct/692239/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_692000/ff_692239_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Mitchell & Ness San Antonio Spurs Black Solid Script Snapback Adjustable Hat
    Majestic Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Logo Man T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Lakers/browse/featuredproduct/851828/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_851000/ff_851828_xl.jpg&w=100 23.95 Majestic Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Logo Man T-Shirt - Black
    Majestic Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Logo Man T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_City_Thunder/browse/featuredproduct/851842/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_851000/ff_851842_xl.jpg&w=100 23.95 Majestic Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Logo Man T-Shirt - White
    adidas Miami Heat 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Heat/browse/featuredproduct/890174/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_890000/ff_890174_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 adidas Miami Heat 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Wh..
    adidas Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Western Conference Champions Locker Room Flex Hat - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_City_Thunder/browse/featuredproduct/890384/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_890000/ff_890384_xl.jpg&w=100 19.99 adidas Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Western Conference Champions Locker Room F..