Even with Harden out, Bulls can’t keep pace with the Rockets

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 8: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls on January 8, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Early and middle December momentum has cooled a bit for Fred Hoiberg’s team – and the reason why is pretty obvious.

You didn’t even have to be around at morning shootaround on Monday morning to hear the coach mention the Bulls’ struggles. A casual glance at the scores from the team’s last six games – four of which are losses – tell the story. Every game the Bulls have allowed over 100 points with their opponents reaching over 116 in four of the contests.

It seemed the wrong time to welcome in the second-best scoring team in the league to the United Center, even after Houston star James Harden was ruled out for the contest. The Rockets kept the Bulls recent defensive woes going again as they continue to struggle in the new year.

Houston went up 21 points in the first quarter and amassed 60 points in the first 24 minutes. The Bulls actually erased the lead in the second half but couldnt’ keep up in a 116-107 loss at the United Center on Monday night.

Eric Gordon and Chris Paul each scored 24 points with Gerald Green putting in 22 to drop the Bulls record to 14-27 on the season as they’ve now lost five of their last seven games.

It wasn’t looking good from the start as Houston sprinted by the Bulls in the opening minutes to build a 34-13 lead after a three-point play by Paul. Showing resolve, the Bulls would chop into the lead and actually grab the advantage on a few occasions in the third quarter.

Yet the Rockets weren’t about to let it get away, using a 13-3 run to get the lead back over ten and weren’t challenged again as the Bulls defensive issues continued for another day.