Rockets-Bulls Preview

Houston Rockets Status Check:
Record: 14-12
Division: 2-4
Conference: 4-10
Road Record: 3-7
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 3
Last game: 121-96 win over Grizzlies
PPG: 105.4 (1st)
Opponents PPG: 103.4 (29th)
Offensive Rating: 108.0 (7th)
Defensive Rating: 105.9 (19th)
Pace: 96.4 (1st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .507 (7th)
Turnover Percentage: .145 (24th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .749 (4th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .259 (21st)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .245 (3rd)
Opp. eFG%: .507 (25th)
Opp. TO%: .134 (20th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .172 (1st)
Leading scorer: James Harden (25.6)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Rockets Injury Report:
Patrick Patterson: out (foot)
Royce White: out (personal)

Chicago tries to rebound from one of its worse losses of the season, while Houston looks to build on its impressive win over one of the top defensive teams in the league, when the two teams meet at the United Center on Christmas. The Bulls’ stifling defense meets the Rockets’ fast-paced, high-scoring offense.

And on a more personal note—although I’m sure it goes for many Bulls fans—Omer Asik returns to the United Center. The last time the Bulls and Rockets met, Asik blocked Joakim Noah’s layup as the Bulls were down four points with less than 15 seconds left. Asik didn’t have a great game overall against the Bulls, finishing with just four points on 2-8 shooting with six rebounds and four turnovers. But the Bulls know Asik affects the game in so many ways that don’t show up on the box score.

Asik is leading the Rockets in defensive rating at 103 (of players that have played more than 100 minutes on the season). Houston has a 105.9 defensive rating as a team. Omer is also fifth in defensive rebound percent (29.2) in the league, 19th in offensive rebound percent (12.2) and fifth in total rebound percentage (20.7).

And while Asik focuses on defense and rebounding, the Rockets hang their hat on offense. Houston is seventh in offensive rating (108.0) and first in pace (96.4). Their offense was on full display in their blowout win over the Grizzlies. Houston piled up 121 points while shooting 53.7 percent from the field. They did something against the Griz no other team got close to. The next highest total Memphis has given up all year is 101, and that was on opening night against the Clippers. Houston scored 20 more points against the Grizzlies than any other team this year.

Chicago held Houston to 93 points in their November matchup, the Rockets sixth lowest point total of the season. Patrick Patterson, who will miss today’s game with a foot injury, scored 20 points on 8-16 from the field and James Harden led the way with 28 points, while going 9-13 from the line.

Nate Robinson came off the bench to lead the Bulls. He scored 21 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton combined to score eight points on 4-15 from the field. Marco Belinelli went scoreless in his six minutes of action.

But the Bulls did slow down the Rockets on the fast-break. Chicago held Houston to 14 fast-break points, while getting 13 of their own on the break. James Harden and company average 17.8 points per game on the break for the year and have scored 25.3 in transition over their last three games. They scored 33 against Memphis. The Bulls allow 12.5 fast-break points per game.

Chicago hopes to bounce back after getting crushed by the Hawks. The Bulls had just two players in double figures (Deng with 11, Noah with 10) while scoring their second fewest points this season. All of Atlanta’s starters scored in double figured, including ex-Bull and current lady-killer Kyle Korver scoring 13 points while shooting 3-6 from deep. The Bulls grabbed just 31 rebounds, compared to 45 for Atlanta) and only took eight free throws.

Christmas stat: The Bulls are 7-0 all-time at home on Christmas.

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