As the Rockets game with the Bulls continued, it seemed more and more likely this game was going to end up far closer than the Rockets hoped. Then all of a sudden the Rockets went on a late third quarter run, outscored the Bulls, 15-1 to close the quarter and won going away, 109-94.
The Rockets had five players score in double figures, led by Dwight Howard’ 23 points. Howard was extremely efficient, hitting 11-of-14 shots and connecting on his only free throw attempt. The one free throw was the fewest he’s attempted since joining the Rockets this offseason.
The key third quarter run was sparked by an Omri Casspi 3-pointer, that extended the lead to six points. But it was on the defensive end where the Rockets took this game and put it out of reach. They held the Bulls to just one point over the final 5:23 of the third quarter. Chicago missed all six of their shots and committed five turnovers in that stretch.
“That was really the game in that stretch,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “We took care of the ball and got some stops. We got some run outs and that’s big for us.
“We play a certain style that’s a little bit different, but it suits our team,” McHale said. “When we get stops and get out and run and put pressure on (the other team), we can score in bunches.”
Houston took a 17 point lead to the fourth quarter and the advantage never dipped below 14 points.
“Defensively we know they like to slow the game down and play to their pace,” James Harden said. “We wanted to push the tempo and play our pace. It was a matter of who could impose their will.
“We wanted to play fast. That’s how we want to play,” Harden said. “We want to play fast no matter who we are playing. Play fast, move the basketball and everybody scores. We did that tonight.”
Harden and Chandler Parsons each had 19 points. Patrick Beverley had 15 points and zero turnovers.
Houston shot 54 percent for the game, the tenth time they have shot 50 percent or better. They are no 8-2 in those games. They also outrebounded the Bulls, the 18th time they have done that and are now 15-3 in those games. Houston was outrebounded in all three games on their recent road trip.