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Game 55: Rockets 99, Bulls 93

3 Apr 2012

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Luol Deng: 24 points (.741 TS%), 7 rebounds
2. Carlos Boozer: 16 points (.554 TS%), 13 rebounds (5 off.), 7 assists
3. Joakim Noah: 15 points (.631 TS%), 9 rebounds (4 off.), 4 blocks

I tend to think too much is made of the challenge of playing on back-to-back nights.

It’s difficult, to be sure, but too often it’s seen as a death sentence under which no team can prosper. Certainly it gets too much attention from NBA pundits dependent on a handful of narrative tropes.

But boy if the Bulls on Monday didn’t look like a team playing the second game of a back-to-back.

For two-plus quarters, they were well on their way. They had more points in the paint after 16 minutes than they had in all of Sunday’s loss in Oklahoma City, and the Rockets, one of the more underrated mid-level teams in the league, seemed destined to become another United Center victim.

Was it mental? Was it physical? For whatever reason, the Bulls faded hard.

Their 13-point lead midway through the third quarter turned into a 14-point deficit a quarter later, thanks to a 41-14 Houston run.

Needless to say, allowing 41 points in 12 minutes is not in the Tom Thibodeau playbook. But the Rockets caught fire from the outside for a few minutes and Chicago never found any answers for Goran Dragic (21 points) and Luis Scola (18 points).

How many games in a row has C.J. Watson been dominated by the opposing point guard? I’m scared to think what could happen Thursday against Rajon Rondo.

Box Score

Record: 42-13, first in the NBA
Next: Thursday 4/5 vs. Boston, 8:30 CT

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