HOUSTON – James Harden scored 28 points, Patrick Patterson added 20 and the Houston Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak with a 93-89 victory over the Bulls on Wednesday night.
Toney Douglas swished a 3-pointer and sank two free throws in the final 1:11 as Houston won for the 33rd consecutive time when holding its opponent below 90 points, the NBA’s longest current streak.
Nate Robinson scored 21 off the bench, Luol Deng added 19 and Carlos Boozer had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who’ve lost three in a row for the first time in Tom Thibodeau’s three seasons as coach.
Houston point guard Jeremy Lin was on the bench for the final five minutes. Lin went 2 for 9 from the field and scored only four points.
Robinson had the highlight of the game, spinning around Lin in midair for a layup with five minutes left to put the Bulls up 81-79. Robinson swished a 3-pointer on the Bulls’ next possession, and Lin went to the bench.
The Bulls’ offense bogged down at the end, and Douglas’ 3-pointer with 1:11 remaining put Houston up 86-84. The Bulls got two offensive rebounds, but Robinson flipped a wild pass from under the basket that hit Deng’s hands and went out of bounds.
Douglas sank two free throws and former Bulls center Omer Asik blocked Joakim Noah on a drive. Asik smacked hands with Houston interim coach Kelvin Sampson as he ran down the floor.
The Bulls have lost three in a row for the first time since a 10-game slide between Feb. 27 and March 19, 2010.
Both teams found open lanes to the basket early, and the Bulls led 22-20 after the first quarter.
Harden was fouled on a 3-pointer by Jimmy Butler, and hit the free throw. Harden then intercepted a bad pass by Deng, and Greg Smith’s dunk finished a 10-1 spurt to put Houston up 30-23.
The Bulls answered with a quick 10-0 burst, fueled by three Houston turnovers. The Rockets missed eight straight shots before Asik scored inside to pull Houston within six, at 39-33. Lin missed four straight shots, then lost the ball to Robinson, who smiled at the Houston bench as he led a fast break the other way.
The Rockets hit their first four shots out of the break and surged ahead. The Bulls missed 12 of their first 16 shots after halftime, but made enough defensive stops to stay close.
Taj Gibson and Boozer tipped in misses in the last minute of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 66-65 heading to the fourth. The Bulls went 7 for 24 from the field in the third quarter and missed all three of their 3-point attempts to slip to 0 for 10 for the game.
Robinson cut through Houston’s defense for two layups and hit a floater with 5:57 left to put the Bulls up 79-78. Asik was called for goaltending while tipping in a Harden miss and lost the ball out of bounds on another possession as the Rockets continued to sputter on
Notes: Chandler Parsons had 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for Houston. ... The Bulls went 2-for-16 from 3-point range (12.5 percent). ... Harden tied a career high with five steals. ... The Bulls held their opponent under 100 points for the first time in five games.