(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls are beginning to sputter on the road and will resume a six-game journey Wednesday with a stiff test against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
The rested Bulls are still a dominant 17-8 away from home, but have lost two straight on the road and fell to 1-2 on the trek with Friday's 99-93 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Derrick Rose scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler had 22 and Aaron Brooks recorded 21 points off the bench in defeat. Pau Gasol collected 10 points and pulled down 19 rebounds for the Bulls, who trailed 40-25 in the second quarter and later had a one-point lead late in the third. The Bulls pulled within 95-93 late in the game, but the Suns closed their record homestand at 6-2.
"It is unfortunate but if we want to get where we want to go, we've got to find ways to win these types of games," Rose said.
Chicago has dropped nine of its last 14 games overall and still has stops in New Orleans and Orlando on this trip.
The Rockets will play their next three games at home versus Chicago, Milwaukee and Portland, and have a 16-7 record as the host.
Houston hopes to bounce back from Saturday's 114-101 loss at Detroit, as NBA leading scorer James Harden posted 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting and Donatas Motiejunas followed with 21 points.
The Rockets were down 21 points late in the third quarter, but rallied to trim the deficit to 92-88 on a Motiejunas alley-oop layup with 5:58 remaining in the game. Detroit, though, fended off the surge for the win.
Harden, who is averaging 27.0 points per game, went down with a knee injury late in the first half and is probable versus the Bulls.
"I went up to the rim; knee on knee, right on the bone. I couldn't feel my leg," Harden said. "My leg was numb for a minute. I was just hoping it wasn't as bad as it felt. I came back here and just took some time. The doctor said it's going to be painful for a short amount of time, but you should be alright. So I just took a couple of deep breaths, relaxed and got back out there on the court."
Houston is already without Dwight Howard (ankle/knee) for the next few weeks and had a four-game winning streak stopped by the Pistons. The Rockets are still 10-4 in the previous 14 games.
The Rockets sustained a 114-105 loss at Chicago on Jan. 5, as Gasol finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Harden had 20 points in that one for the Rockets, who are 4-2 in the last six games in this series.