Houston Rockets vs. Chicago Bulls: Postgame Grades and Analysis
The Houston Rockets blitzed the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, coming away with a 120-97 victory.
Most teams will find it tough to get even a few players into double-digits against the No. 3-ranked Bulls defense. The Rockets had all five starters in double figures midway through the third quarter. Four of them finished with 20-plus.
Chicago holds teams to an average of 91 points per game, a total which Houston elapsed before the final frame.
James Harden led the way with 26 points, while Omer Asik posted 20 points and 18 rebounds against his former team. Asik dominated the painted area against a very good Chicago frontcourt that just seemed disinterested.
The Rockets improved to 15-12, while the Bulls fall to the same record. It was a disappointing performance all-around for Chicago, who didn't seem to want their home crowd to enjoy the holiday game. They allowed the Rockets to shoot 56 percent from the field and were outrebounded by 14.
Let's hit the holiday Bleacher Report classroom and see how all the players graded out.
Jeremy Lin, PG HOU: A
Santa Claus was very good to Jeremy Lin this Christmas, as the Rockets point guard simply couldn't miss from the field.
Lin torched Kirk Hinrich and the Bulls for 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He and James Harden had Houston's offense clicking from the start. They opened a five-point lead in the first quarter, and then Lin really turned on the jets.
He scored 10 points in the Rockets' dominating second quarter, which pushed the lead near 20 points.
Lin facilitated his offense superbly, working very nice passes inside to help his bigs get easy looks around the rim. He also was able to penetrate through the slow-footed Hinrich and wrap a few passes out for open threes. He finished with 11 assists.
Kirk Hinrich, PG CHI: F
Kirk Hinrich got off to a shaky start on Dec. 25. He missed his first five shots and wasn't a factor defensively.
By the time Hinrich connected on his first jumper, the Rockets were already building a formidable lead and Jeremy Lin was racing around the court.
Hinrich was shooting just 37 percent from the field entering this game and is just not equipped to run the offense as a starter. He needs to facilitate things better for this Bulls team that suffers greatly offensively.
They cannot score even close to the rate of a team like the Rockets, and a large chunk of that blame has to land on the point guard who starts them off slow. Hinrich scored just four points and tallied four assists in 21 minutes.
James Harden, SG HOU: A
James Harden was relentless attacking the hoop against the Bulls. His offense started in the first period and, like that of his team, did not stop until the final buzzer.
Harden went to the line for 13 free throws, hitting 11. He totaled 26 points while also contributing across the board. He grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists.
As one of the league's dominant shooting guards, these are the matchups tailor-made for Harden to dominate. The test of a true superstar is performing when expected, and that is what Harden did for the Rockets.
His consistent pressure on the interior of Chicago demoralized the Bulls and took them out of the game for a long stretch in the middle of the game.
Marco Belinelli, SG CHI: B
One of the only Bulls to bring their A-game to the home court on Dec. 25, Marco Belinelli played up to expectations opposite James Harden.
He provided some necessary offense while Chicago seemed to be in a holding pattern through the third quarter. His scoring allowed the Bulls to remain within distance of a long run to get back into the game in the final quarter.
Belinelli finished with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He hit a pair threes as well.
Chandler Parsons, SF HOU: A
Chandler Parsons continues to be one of the most interesting players in the league to watch.
The Rockets' unlikely star was on fire from the field, scoring 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He was electric from all over the court, hitting four threes.
With the Bulls making a little run in the fourth quarter in an attempt to make a game out of this, Parsons connected on three threes, scoring the first six Rockets points of the quarter.
That late-game scoring really helped Houston put an end to the Bulls entirely.
Luol Deng, SF CHI: C-
Things were slow moving for Luol Deng Tuesday night. He struggled out of the gate to get going offensively and was blitzed at the other end. His help on the defensive end was required by just about every position and that hampered what he was able to do against Chandler Parsons.
Shooting 5-of-14 from the field can be very frustrating, and that frustration showed in Deng's second half. Even during the Bulls' fourth-quarter run, Deng was not heavily involved offensively.
The Bulls small forward finished with 14 points, an unsuccessful number after playing 36 minutes.
Marcus Morris, PF HOU: C
Marcus Morris earned just his sixth start of the season in Patrick Patterson's absence, and there was nothing noticeable to complain about.
Morris was average all-around, scoring 10 points and grabbing five boards in 28 minutes.
He finished just 3-of-9, which was covered up for by the other starters, but is not a great mark. Slightly more worrisome is that seven of those nine shots were threes, of which he was 2-of-7.
Considering some of the games he has put together entering Dec. 25, these numbers are acceptable.
Carlos Boozer, PF CHI: F
Carlos Boozer was getting nothing against the Houston Rockets.
The surprising frontcourt of Omer Asik and Marcus Morris completely stymied Boozer's offense, and after that happens, he is relatively useless.
Boozer's slow help defense was unable to do anything against the superior passing of the Rockets backcourt. That also played into the big night offensively for Asik. When Joakim Noah is having difficulty covering for his slow defense, the entire painted area is in jeopardy.
Boozer finished 3-of-11 for six points and grabbed only three rebounds in 22 minutes. He finished with a team-worst minus-26 mark.
Omer Asik, C HOU: A
Omer Asik put on another of his rebounding clinics against his former team on Christmas Day. Playing against the Chicago Bulls and one of the Eastern Conference's top centers, Asik dominated from the get-go.
The Rockets center played a very smart and in-control game, using time with Joakim Noah on the bench to help build a lead for his team. A large chunk of his final numbers came during time spent battling the Bulls backups.
Those final numbers were incredible. He had a double-double early in the third quarter and continued from there. Asik finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds. He shot an incredible 9-of-13 from the field.
Joakim Noah, C CHI: C+
It wasn't that Joakim Noah played a poor game, he actually was fairly solid. Things just got out of hand so quickly against the Rockets that his value was muted.
Noah let a lot go on in the first half. That usually isn't such a major deal because Chicago's defense can tighten up in an instant. However, against an incredible offensive push like the Rockets brought, that wasn't possible. As soon as Houston was on a run, this game got out of control fast. Noah has to take blame for this.
He finished with just eight points and nine rebounds, putting up only three shots (all makes). This game reeked of a disinterested Noah, as he also let Omer Asik show him up and wasn't able to establish a formidable defensive presence in the paint.
Nate Robinson, SG CHI: A-
Nate Robinson was the only member of the Chicago Bulls who supplied offensive gifts to the home fans.
The dynamic scorer came off the bench and lit things up for a brief time in the fourth quarter. Entering blowouts like this game is a massive help to Robinson's game. This allows him to be conscience-free in putting up as many shots as he pleases.
Tuesday night, though, he was hitting them all and deserves just credit for his work in at least making the game watchable in the second half.
The reserve guard posted 27 points in 28 minutes, most coming in the final frame.
Carlos Delfino, SF HOU: C+
Carlos Delfino provided a steadying presence off the bench for the Houston Rockets.
That was really all the team needed after the starters supplied such a dominant outing. Delfino posted seven points on 3-of-6 shooting. His lone three did come in a great spot, stemming a Bulls run.
He took nothing off the table, finishing with a plus-four mark in 26 minutes.
Chicago Bulls Bench: B
Outside of Nate Robinson's scoring uproar, the Bulls bench actually provided some decent minutes.
Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson combined to connect on 6-of-10 shots, with Gibson scoring nine points. He added four rebounds in 20 minutes as well.
Marquis Teague saw 18 minutes, mostly garbage time, and scored eight points off the bench.
Houston Rockets Bench: B-
With four starters scoring 20-plus, the Rockets bench had little to do Tuesday evening.
They were effective in what little action they saw, combining to shoot 10-of-20 from the field.
Toney Douglas scored six points and Greg Smith tallied four.