Disappointed in themselves for a poor showing in Monday’s loss to the Spurs, which was more lopsided than the final score would indicate, the Bulls responded with a resounding 111-87 win over the red hot Houston Rockets.
After allowing San Antonio to shoot over 60 percent for most of the game on Monday and falling behind as many as 32, The Bulls (36-29) led wire-to-wire and ran up their lead by as much as 29, never letting the Rockets – 5-1 in March coming into tonight, scoring 108+ during that stretch – get into any semblance of an offensive flow as they held them to 35.4 percent shooting.
“It’s a good win; much better start,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought throughout (the game) was solid, defense as good. The offense, everyone shared the ball, made quick decisions. I thought Carlos (Boozer) got us going early in the game and that sort of set the tone for everything.”
Boozer scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half, taking advantage of Houston’s Dwight Howard covering him and daring him to take midrange shots.
For the 11th time this season, all five Bulls’ starters scored in double figures in the same game, improving their mark to 10-1 when that happens. They also achieved a new season-high in assists with 35 and also a season-high with 14 3-pointers made.
Mike Dunleavy scored 21 points (5-of-6 from three) – all coming in the second half, after he received 10 stitches during halftime after taking an elbow to the right side of his face in the second quarter while drawing a charge. Kirk Hinrich added 19 and Joakim Noah finished one assist shy of his fourth triple-double of the season. It marked the seventh time this season that he has finished with nine or more assists; no other center has done it more than once.
Most impressive than the bevy of season-highs, following their last 13 losses, the Bulls are 12-1.
“There’s a lot of pride in this locker room,” Hinrich said. “We take a lot of pride in how we do as a team. Collectively, go out there and play well on both ends, we can compete with a lot of teams.”
The Bulls led 50-42 at halftime and jumped out to a 20-2 run to start the second half. They would outscore Houston 35-16 in the third with Dunleavy scoring all 18 of his points during the period.
Dwight Howard led Houston with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 10 rebounds, but the rest of the starters shot a combined 7-of-41.
“I think that it was a great team effort,” Noah said. “A lot of guys coming down and helping (on) Dwight. I picked up some fouls. It’s a team effort on a guy like (Harden). He can score in so many different ways and it was just a great effort.
“We’re real happy with this game because it’s one of our better games of the year. We’re happy we bounced back from that game the other night against San Anotnio. A lot of guys stopped up.”
The Bulls will have Friday off before hosting the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.