The Houston Rockets thrashed the Chicago Bulls 115-94, winning head coach Mike D’Antoni the 500th game of his career, breaking a two-game losing streak and also snapping a streak of bad luck against mediocre Eastern Conference teams. D’Antoni becomes just the 30th coach in NBA history to achieve that milestone and is the fifth active coach to that many wins.
The Rockets were clicking on all cylinders after a slow start in the first quarter in which they were down by as many 13. It was a different story in the second quarter, however, when the second team, lead by Lou Williams and Sam Dekker, turned things around for the Rockets.
Houston proceeded to go on a 36-16 run to close the first half and take a 7-point lead into the break. The highlight was a four-point play by James Harden.
The Rockets picked up where they left off in the second half, pushing the lead to as many 31 points behind a three-point barrage from Ryan Anderson. Ryno hit four from deep after halftime and six total threes for the game.
After that, the Rockets brought the win home on cruise control and cleared the bench to close out the fourth quarter.
Houston was lead by Anderson’s 21 points, and they also received 19 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists and 3 steals from James Harden, 18 points from Lou Williams, who still didn’t shoot well (4-11), but made plays in other ways, 17 points and 7 rebounds in another strong box line from Clint Capela, and 13 points from Trevor Ariza.
When the Rockets hit their threes and play good defense, they usually win the game, and tonight was no different, with the team knocking down their magic number from beyond the arc in hitting 15-47. The defense was mostly on point after the lackadaisical first frame, as they held the Bulls to just 38.8 percent shooting from the floor, including only 23.1 percent from deep. The Rockets also forced 18 Chicago turnovers.
The Bulls were lead by Dwyane Wade’s 21 points, though all of them came before halftime and 12 of those came in a red hot 5-5 shooting first quarter. The Rockets and Patrick Beverley clamped down on him in second half, however, making the veteran guard a total non-factor after the break.
The Rockets move to 45-21 on the season and extend their lead of the idle Utah Jazz to 3.5 games for the third seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The Bulls fall to 31-35, and combined with a win by the Milwaukee Bucks, have fallen into ninth in the East and out of the playoffs.
The Rockets play again on Sunday night, when they return home to the Toyota Center to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a huge nationally televised contest on ESPN.