Enhanced Box Score: Rockets 133, Bulls 118 — December 26, 2022

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Enhanced Box Score: Rockets 133, Bulls 118 — December 26, 2022

Chicago Bulls

It’s been said plenty of times this season, but the Bulls have had some problems with slow starts. They’re also no strangers to playing down to a team, and that’s a problem with this core that predates this season.

Monday night seemed eerily similar to both scenarios as the single-digit-win Rockets jumped out to a 10-0 lead and eventually an 18-point lead over the Bulls, who were searching for their fourth straight victory.

The Rockets scored 36 points in the first quarter — 22 of which came in the paint — and shot a sizzling 66.7 percent from the floor as the Bulls struggled against the pick and roll and in transition. Still, the Bulls awoke from their early-game slumber as they have so often this season as they battled their way back into the game throughout the second quarter.

Then Zach LaVine did a thing that caused the United Center crowd to erupt as the teams made their way to the locker room for halftime.

But that wasn’t even the highlight of the half for LaVine. This slam dunk, courtesy of the steal and dish by Coby White, was the first two of eight points for Zach LaVine in the final minute of the first half.

After being outscored 36-26 in the opening frame the Bulls got right in the second quarter thanks to strong efforts by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

Unfortunately, the third quarter was all Houston. The Rockets scored 35 and took a 99-89 lead into the fourth quarter. The closing effort wasn’t much better for the Bulls. With 7:34 to play and a nine-point deficit, Billy Donovan went to the starting lineup. Houston responded by drilling their next three shots on a quick 7-0 run that included two back-to-back triples by Kevin Porter Jr.

Houston, like a bevy of other opponents that have come into the United Center, shot the lights out against the Bulls beyond the arc, especially when it mattered. The Rockets finished with a 38.6 shooting percentage from range and Kevin Porter Jr. (6) and Jalen Green (6) combined to knock down 12 triples.

Kevin Porter Jr. scored 36 points for the Rockets, and Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green added 25 and 24, respectively.

DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Bulls with 31 points and Zach LaVine added 22 points.

The bottom line, the Bulls played down to the Rockets, and Houston made them pay for it.

Here’s the EBS, you can find the complete box score here:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.