NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 25th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (14-12) at Chicago Bulls (15-11), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets will carry a three-game winning streak into a Christmas night showdown in Chicago against the Bulls at the United Center.
The Rockets' winning streak started with a Dec. 17 victory in New York over the Knicks. The return of Linsanity to Madison Square Garden spurred the Rockets to a Wednesday drubbing of the Philadelphia 76ers, 125-103.
On Saturday, the Rockets looked spectacular in a home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Houston scored 30 points off 19 Memphis turnovers and seven Rockets scored in double-figures.
"I think there's always steps you're taking and I think we're taking some steps," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "There will be some steps backward at some point. We have to be better two weeks from now, than we are today."
James Harden led the way against the Grizzlies with 31 points and eight assists. He shot 9-for-13 and a perfect 2-for-2 from long distance.
Jeremy Lin netted 15 points and handed out 11 assists. That's a pretty spectacular night from the Houston backcourt.
Omer Asik had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Morris, Greg Smith, Toney Douglas and Carlos Delfino each scored in double-figures.
The Bulls are coming off an embarrassing, 92-75 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Luol Deng led the way with 11 points and Joakim Noah had 10. They were the only two Bulls in double-digits.
The Hawks loss was a little disturbing to the Bulls considering how well they played the previous night in Madison Square Garden. The Bulls bested the Knicks 110-106, but Chicago laid a big-time egg in Atlanta.
"One night you come out and play so well and you feel great, and then the next night you come out with the wrong mindset and don't play well," said Noah. "The highs and lows are unbelievable. Our energy was bad, and we settled for too many shots early in the clock. When you're tired, sometimes you just have to move the ball around, and we didn't do that."
The Bulls rank in the top 10 in the NBA in all rebounding statistics, but posted a season-low 31 against the Hawks.
"Our defense and our rebounding were both poor," acknowledged head coach Tom Thibodeau. "We can't use being tired as an excuse. They played last night, and they were on the road too. It's a will game. We just have to play for 48 minutes. Some nights shots won't fall. But you have to rely on your defense and take care of the ball. When you do that, you give yourself a chance to win."
The Bulls have won their last two at home.
The Rockets topped the Bulls, 93-89 on Nov. 21. Harden went off for 28 points that night and Houston has won the last two contests in this series. The Bulls won the five matchups before that.
12/25 10:33:42 ET