Houston Chronicle

Rockets’ extend skid to eight games with 120-100 loss to Bulls.

Brief comeback follows cold start but fails to prevent another blowout that extends skid

- JONATHAN FEIGEN On the Rockets

The Rockets had their nice little comeback, from down 15 to a small, brief first-half lead.

It was built on quicksand, getting the Bulls’ attention enough to smack the Rockets hard enough that there was no coming back.

The Bulls went on a thirdquart­er blitz that put them in even their celebrated record book, pushing a sixpoint halftime lead to as much as 31 before coasting in with a 120-100 romp that sent the Rockets to their eighth consecutiv­e loss Monday night at Toyota Center.

The losing streak is the Rockets’ longest in two decades — since a 15-game skid from Nov. 23 to Dec. 20, 2000 — and includes five blowouts. In two other games, the

Rockets needed long comebacks from the brink of clearing the bench to make it close.

The Rockets mounted their customary comeback from a slow start, rallying in the first

half. But when the Bulls put up 46 points in the third quarter, it was their most in franchise history and the most the Rockets have allowed in a quarter this season and took the lead to 31.

Bulls star Zach LaVine had 14 of his 21 points in the quarter. Coby White hit all three 3-pointers he put up, finishing with 23 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. added an easy 18. Chicago’s starters combined to make 60.7 percent of their shots, while the Rockets’ made 33.5 percent, leaving little chance.

The Rockets’ hope that three days of practices would be enough to turn things around did not amount to much when Victor Oladipo and DeMarcus Cousins, who had gone through workouts when games were postponed, could not play.

Oladipo hurt his strained right foot again. Cousins, whom the Rockets are working to trade or waive anyway, was out with a sore right heel.

With Christian Wood sidelined for the entire losing streak, the Rockets started their small lineup for the first time this season, bringing last week’s addition, Justin Patton, off the bench.

Other than their seven-minute, first-half surge, the Rockets were crushed in just about every way.

Eric Gordon made just one of 10 3-pointers. John Wall, who scored the Rockets’ only points for more than seven minutes to start the game, made just one of his last eight shots after that. P.J. Tucker, who started at center, took three shots and missed them.

The defense in the third quarter was worse. The only way to slow the Bulls’ barrage of 3-pointers was to entice them to take the plentiful layups and dunks the Rockets allowed.

Though the Rockets got off to their now familiar terrible start, it did not last as long as in their previous game at Philadelph­ia, so that represente­d progress. They also knew the way back.

Though they shot horribly to start the game, needing nearly eight minutes before Danuel House Jr. became their first player other than Wall to score, the

Rockets rallied by cranking up their defense.

They limited LaVine’s touches and benefited greatly from Chicago’s making just four of 16 3-pointers in the first half, a marked turnaround from the Bulls’ 20 3-pointers on 44.4 percent shooting last month. And when the Rockets began getting stops, they gave themselves time to find some offense.

The early struggles could not have been entirely unexpected. Teams often misfire at first when coming off a long layoff. The Rockets had not played since Wednesday, with a pair of games postponed in the wake of last week’s severe weather in Houston. But the Rockets had made 42.2 percent of their shots and 27.5 percent of their 3-pointers in the losing streak before they opened Monday’s game 3-of-12, including just one of their first six.

When they put together a flurry of scoring, with Jae’Sean Tate and Gordon sinking 3s and David Nwaba finishing a drive to cap a 28-9 run from a 15-point deficit to the lead, the Rockets had undone most of the early damage.

They were far from hot, especially from deep. Carter was scoring consistent­ly inside. The Bulls had led even without hitting 3s or getting much from LaVine.

The Rockets had done enough to get back in the game, but when the Bulls got going, the rout was on and built to last.

 ?? Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photograph­er ?? The Bulls’ Coby White works his way past the Rockets’ P.J. Tucker, who started at center for the first time this season.
Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photograph­er The Bulls’ Coby White works his way past the Rockets’ P.J. Tucker, who started at center for the first time this season.
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 ?? Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photograph­er ?? Patrick Williams has no trouble scoring against the Rockets’ David Nwaba in the third quarter, when the Bulls set a franchise record with 46 points.
Yi-Chin Lee / Staff photograph­er Patrick Williams has no trouble scoring against the Rockets’ David Nwaba in the third quarter, when the Bulls set a franchise record with 46 points.

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