The Rockets, like Chicago, are looking to move up to third place
in their conference. Houston had a five-game winning streak come to
an end at Oklahoma City on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game
road trip and still needs to travel to Miami after finishing up with
the Bulls. Chicago is one of the more physical teams in the league
and the Rockets should be well prepared for that style after
spending most of Tuesday in a shoving match with the Thunder.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, CSN Chicago
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (44-20): The animosity between Oklahoma City star
Russell Westbrook and Houston guard Patrick Beverley, who knocked
Westbrook out of the playoffs with a hit to the knee last spring,
clearly still lingered on Tuesday, and it was Westbrook getting the
better end of the battle. Beverley was aggressive and physical with
Westbrook but ended up with two points on 1-of-4 shooting while
drawing five fouls and failing to get the offense going for the rest
of his teammates. “That’s how I play against everybody,” Beverley
told reporters. “There’s no personal bias out there today. I just
have to go out there and fight and try to do what I do to help my
team win basketball games.”
ABOUT THE BULLS (35-29): Chicago has dropped three of its last five
games, including two of three to kick off a six-game homestand.
“There has to be an edge in shoot-around, the day before in
practice, a concentration level and speed and intensity,” coach Tom
Thibodeau told reporters after the lackluster performance against
San Antonio. “You have to match that. When one team is playing like
that and you are not, you are in trouble.” The Bulls have their own
point guard who is unafraid to challenge on the defensive end in
Kirk Hinrich but could use a little more offensive firepower out of
that spot and are giving away plenty of minutes to D.J. Augustin off
the bench while working newcomer Jimmer Fredette into the rotation.
[to top of second column]
Augustin is averaging 23 points on 15-of-23 shooting in the last
Rockets G James Harden is averaging 32 points in the last four
Houston has taken four straight in the series, including a 109-94
triumph at home on Dec. 18.
PREDICTION: Bulls 93, Rockets 92
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