Rockets give Bulls tough lesson in modern basketball

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Chicago.

    Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 11/9/2019 10:28 PM

Since the season began, Bulls coach Jim Boylen has talked about having a winning shot distribution and the math indicating the right way to play.

Well, nothing seemed correct about how the Bulls played Saturday against the reigning kings of the 3-point shot, the Houston Rockets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bulls finished the game a pathetic 4-for-32 from 3-point range, good for 12.5 percent.

The Rockets, meanwhile, rained 3s from every corner of the court and rolled to a 117-94 victory at the United Center.

James Harden hit more than twice as many 3-pointers as the entire Bulls squad. The league's leading scorer hit 9 of 19 shots from long range, finishing with 42 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

As a team, Houston shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range, making 19 of 44 attempts. Russell Westbrook added 26 points for the Rockets (6-3), while center Clint Capela piled up 16 points and 20 rebounds.

Four different players led the Bulls (3-7) with 13 points each, and no one hit as many as 2 shots from 3-point range.

"It's shots. We practice them as much as we can," Zach Lavine said. "How many did we make today? That's obviously not good enough. Get in the gym and shoot and trust it. You've got to trust that the shot's going in."

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It seems obvious to ask whether the Bulls really have the right idea. Whether it's the trend or not, why emphasize 3-point shots if the Bulls aren't good at making them.

"Who had better shots in the first half, us or them? Who had better shots? We did," Boylen said. "We made them in Atlanta (on Wednesday), we didn't make them tonight. They made them and we didn't so give them credit."

Boylen was asked if he'd consider changing the offensive emphasis, but he's not ready to switch 10 games into the season.

"We have guys shooting below their career averages by multiple points," Boylen said. "Will that turn? I think it will. It's frustrating when it doesn't. I get it, believe me. I'm sitting over there with it too."

While the Bulls were tossing up enough bricks to rebuild Chicago Stadium, Houston pulled away in the third quarter. Harden and Eric Gordon knocked down 4 in a row from 3-point land to boost the lead to 77-58. The Rockets won the third quarter 36-18, leaving Harden's final stat line the only drama in the fourth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bulls lost the rebound battle 55-46, despite center Wendell Carter Jr. grabbing a career-high 16 to go with 13 points.

Chandler Hutchison got his first start of the season in place of the injured Otto Porter. Hutchison was aggressive and had a medium impact, finishing with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

Boylen said Porter ditched the crutch he was using on Friday, but there's no timetable for when he might return from a left foot sprain.

Boylen used the coach's challenge in the second quarter and lost. Boylen argued that Harden should have been called for an offensive foul for elbowing Ryan Arcidiacono on a drive to the basket. The original call stood, a foul on Arcidiacono. Boylen is now 1-1 on coach's challenges this season.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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