Omer Asik lights up former team, the Bulls
Omer Asik is one of the few, maybe the only player in the NBA, who takes the time to blow dry his hair after a game.
On Tuesday, after playing his best game as a pro against his former team, Asik didn't let things go to his head. The 7-foot center piled up 20 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks as the Houston Rockets ran past the Bulls 120-97 on Tuesday at the United Center.
"I'm just happy we won the game," Asik said with dry hair inside the visitors locker room. "It's a regular-season game. It's good to win. That's it."
Asik was very popular with his teammates during two seasons with the Bulls, but he certainly doesn't miss riding the bench as Joakim Noah's backup. Asik finished 1 short of his career high in both points and rebounds in this game.
Painful as it is for the Bulls to make a smart draft-night trade, then watch Asik star for another team in his third NBA season, there are more pressing issues at hand.
Two-game losing streaks have been rare for the Bulls during Tom Thibodeau's three seasons as head coach. Now, for the first time, they've lost consecutive games by double digits.
They were soundly beaten in Atlanta on Saturday, trailing by 26 points in the third quarter before a futile rally. On this night, they fell behind Houston 86-51 in the third quarter.
Nate Robinson (season-high 27 points) put a buzz into the holiday crowd by leading a comeback that cut the deficit from 35 to 15 with 8:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that's as close as it got.
"Here's the thing: We had a bad fourth quarter in New York (in a win last Friday), we had a bad performance in Atlanta and we followed it up today," Thibodeau said. "So things can change very quickly in this league.
"If you're not right and ready, and you don't have an edge, you're not going to win without playing with the right amount of intensity. That part, that's on me. Having us ready, having us playing hard — I've got to have them ready. That's my job."
Of course, it's the players' job to get back on defense and contest a shot every once in a while. Houston blistered the Bulls in fastbreak points 31-8, built a 45-31 rebounding edge and shot 56.1 percent from the field.
"Everything was bad," Noah said. "Terrible Christmas."
Granted, the Rockets (15-12) have been on a roll lately. This was their fourth straight win, third straight game scoring at least 120 points, and they handed Memphis its worst loss of the season Saturday in Houston.
The 120 points allowed matches a low point in Thibodeau's coaching tenure. In his fourth game on the job, the Bulls lost to New York 120-112 on Nov. 4, 2010.
"You don't play with an edge, that's a heck of an offensive team," Thibodeau said of the Rockets. "You have to have floor balance when you shoot. You've got to sprint back. You've got to protect the basket. You've got to stop the ball. You've got to find the most dangerous man. You've got to be tied together.
"There's no easy part to doing that. You have to do it time after time. We gave them confidence early and it snowballed."
Luol Deng was limping badly in the locker room and said he turned his ankle in the first quarter. He was unsure if he'd be able to play today, when the Bulls can reclaim the division lead against Indiana.
The Bulls have always been a good bounce-back team under Thibodeau, but they've never fallen this far.
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