Bulls use fantastic third quarter to roll past Rockets

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls' Thaddeus Young, left, defends against Houston Rockets' Eric Gordon, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston.

    Chicago Bulls' Thaddeus Young, left, defends against Houston Rockets' Eric Gordon, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston. Associated Press

  • Chicago Bulls' Coby White, second from left, shoots a layup ahead of Houston Rockets' P.J. Tucker (17) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston.

    Chicago Bulls' Coby White, second from left, shoots a layup ahead of Houston Rockets' P.J. Tucker (17) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston. Associated Press

  • Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine, left, puts up a basket ahead of Houston Rockets' Sterling Brown (0) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston.

    Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine, left, puts up a basket ahead of Houston Rockets' Sterling Brown (0) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Houston. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/22/2021 10:24 PM

A solid nickname deserves to be celebrated.

Television analyst Stacey King -- or whoever came up with this one -- captured the state of the Bulls extremely well. Veteran forward Thaddeus Young is now "Thadgic Johnson."

 

Over the last 15 games, Young leads the Bulls in assists at 5.2 per game. He's using his veteran wisdom to set the tone and make this a pass-first, high-assist team.

The latest example was a 120-100 road victory on Monday over the undersized and undermanned Houston Rockets. Young finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and the Bulls produced a historically significant third quarter on the way to victory.

Asked about the nickname, Young said he'd already seem it all over Instagram.

"I just think it's funny," he said. "I laughed, I like seeing stuff like that where guys are making up names and having fun," he said. "Honestly, I don't really think too much about (the high assists). I'm just a basketball player, just hoop and that's what I go out there and do."

Young's previous career-high for assists was 2.5 during his last year in Indiana. He's averaging 4.3 this season.

Coby White shook off an elbow to the face to score a team-high 24 points and Zach LaVine added 21. White went to the locker room briefly after taking an elbow on defense and tumbling backward into the basket support, but he was back quickly.

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"I just had my nose busted," said White, who probably didn't mean that it was actually broken. "Other than that, I was cool. Just had to swab my nose and stop the bleeding."

The Bulls produced a perfect third quarter to put this one away, outscoring Houston 46-26. According to Bulls radio statistician Jeff Mangurten, it was the highest-scoring third quarter in franchise history.

The Bulls hit 19 of 25 shots overall (76 percent), 7 of 9 from 3-point range, and shot just 3 free throws in the quarter. LaVine poured in 14 points, going 3-for-3 from behind the arc.

There are more notable streaks. According to ESPN, the Bulls scored at least 105 points in 12 straight road games for the first time in franchise history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I feel like there's progress being made with our group," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "I think we're trying to play the right way. I think this is a very, very unselfish team and it's an extra-pass team. They really generate good shots for each other."

Young helps set the tone as sort of a secondary point guard. When LaVine draws attention from the defense, the secondary plan is to spread out and let Young make decisions in the middle of the floor. The Bulls had 24 assists on Monday, but they've been over 30 several times this season.

"You have a team that's willing to play for each other," Young said. "If that means me facilitating as opposed to me attacking, but finding other guys that's open or making reads and seeing mismatches and stuff like that, that's what I'll do. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do so we can win."

Houston's starting center Christian Wood is out with a sprained ankle. Backup DeMarcus Cousins was on the injured list, but there have been reports that he's going to sit while the Rockets find him a new home.

The Rockets typically play a small lineups as it is, but on Monday, their tallest starter was 6-foot-6 Danuel House. Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. took advantage by posting 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bulls started fast, leading 22-7, watched Houston come back and take a 4-point lead midway through the second quarter.

The Rockets were still within 54-50 a minute into the third quarter, but when the shots started falling to the Bulls, they opened a 31-point advantage 10 minutes later.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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