Published March 13, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - It appears both the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls will reach the playoffs, but the two squads are coming off losing efforts.
Something has to give when the Rockets pay a visit to the Bulls Thursday night at the United Center. The Rockets opened a tough three-game road trip with Tuesday's 106-98 loss at Oklahoma City, as James Harden netted 28 points and Chandler Parsons added 19.
Dwight Howard was limited to nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Houston, which had a five-game winning streak stopped and fell to 18-13 on the road. The Rockets missed several opportunities to keep their winning streak intact.
"We missed 15 layups out there," said Houston head coach Kevin McHale. "We went in there soft tonight. We didn't attack the rim."
The Rockets are fourth in the Western Conference standings, one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers and four off the top seed.
Houston will close the trip Sunday afternoon in Miami.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will continue their quest for a playoff spot and a six- game homestand versus the Rockets.
Chicago has alternated results in the last six games and dropped to 1-2 on the stay with Tuesday's 104-96 loss to San Antonio. Chicago was down 38-14 after the first quarter and a second-half surge fell short.
"There's nothing to take (from a game) when you get down by 30 and then make a run at the end. We've got to get it figured out," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
D.J. Augustin and Jimmy Butler scored 24 and 23 points, respectively, while Joakim Noah rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 points to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. The Bulls shot 42.7 percent and committed 14 turnovers.
The Bulls have a 19-12 record as the host and are fourth in the East standings, 1 1/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors. They still have Sacramento and Oklahoma City slated to visit the United Center.
Chicago suffered a 109-94 loss at Houston on Dec. 18 and was led by Butler's 20 points. Howard had 23 points in that one and both Harden and Parsons ended with 19 for the Rockets, who have won four in a row in this series.
Houston is 7-3 in the last 10 trips to the Windy City.