Rock­ets roll af­ter Bulls’ 7-point 3rd quar­ter

Rock­ets re­gain form as Bulls put up ane­mic 7 points in 3rd quar­ter

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - By K.C. John­son kcjohn­son@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @kcjhoop

Give the Bulls credit for this as they con­cluded an 0-4 home­s­tand with a 96-88 loss to the Rock­ets on Satur­day night at the United Cen­ter.

They keep com­ing up with cre­ative ways to lose.

Af­ter a com­pet­i­tive first half that ended with a 56-54 Bulls lead, they sank a fran­chise-low six field goals in the sec­ond half and pro­duced one of the worst quar­ters in team his­tory in the third with a se­ries of al­most in­de­scrib­able turnovers.

The 19 give­aways forced the Bulls to waste a mostly strong de­fen­sive ef­fort through­out, hold­ing the Rock­ets to dou­ble dig­its on a night they wel­comed back James Har­den from a three-game ab­sence with a ham­string in­jury. Har­den fin­ished with 25 points, seven as­sists and four steals but com­mit­ted eight turnovers, in­clud­ing one when Jabari Parker picked him clean while iso­lated up top.

“At the end of the day, we lost,” Parker said. “So it wasn’t enough.”

The Rock­ets used pick-and-roll to get switches and re­peat­edly at­tack Parker, who ac­tu­ally fared fairly well in at least mov­ing his feet and con­test­ing shots. But Parker com­mit­ted seven turnovers, in­clud­ing the most bizarre of the evening — and that’s say­ing some­thing.

Wen­dell Carter Jr. — huge again with 14 points, 13 re­bounds, four blocks and two steals — re­bounded a Har­den miss with just more than three min­utes left and the Bulls trail­ing by seven. Carter’s out­let to Zach LaVine hit a run­ning Parker in the feet and rolled out of bounds.

Har­den con­verted a three-point play on the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion for a 10-point lead.

“I don’t know,” Parker said when asked what hap­pened. “I wasn’t even pay­ing at­ten­tion my­self.”

Is that why the turnover hap­pened?

“I don’t think so,” said Parker, who shot 50 per­cent and scored 15 points.

The Rock­ets built a 17-point lead early in the fourth mostly thanks to a third quar­ter that al­most de­fied de­scrip­tion.

The Bulls missed 15 of 17 shots. They com­mit­ted six turnovers. They went score­less for 6 min­utes, 52 sec­onds. They scored seven points, just one more than the low­est-scor­ing quar­ter in fran­chise his­tory.

“We had one bad quar­ter. Un­for­tu­nately, it was a re­ally bad quar­ter,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We were set­tling for shots. And then in the fourth, we got back in it by at­tack­ing the rim.”

In­deed, the Bulls shot 17-for-18 from the line in the fourth and 26-for-27 for the game. LaVine missed 12 of 16 shots but ran his ca­reer-high streak of 20-point games to 11 dat­ing to last sea­son by shoot­ing 12-for-13 from the line. He fin­ished with 21 points.

But ev­ery time the Bulls got within sniff­ing dis­tance, they seemed to com­mit an­other cre­ative turnover.

“Just mind­less turnovers,” Hoiberg said.

Be­yond Carter’s strong game, fel­low first-round pick Chan­dler Hutchi­son posted a sea­son-high 12 points. But even he sees what’s plagu­ing the short-handed Bulls.

“It seems like we get off to those good starts where our of­fense is click­ing and de­fen­sively we’re do­ing pretty well, and then we just slip up, whether it’s a stretch in a quar­ter or a whole quar­ter,” Hutchi­son said. “We can’t do that in or­der to win. Our mar­gin for er­ror is so small.”

The Rock­ets can be over­whelm­ing when fir­ing on all cylin­ders — they can bury teams with a quick avalanche of points. It just has hap­pened with far less fre­quency this sea­son. Will the Bulls?

“We just need to get bet­ter,” Parker said. “That’s all we can con­trol. Just play­ing hard and giv­ing it our best, that’s how we get bet­ter.”

JOHN J. KIM/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Rock­ets guard James Har­den leans into rookie Wen­dell Carter Jr. in the third quar­ter of Satur­day night’s Bulls loss.

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