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Bulls’ defense shredded by Rockets in Christmas beating

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 8:14 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Using a more profane term, Joakim Noah light-heartedly said he hoped Omer Asik played like garbage in Tuesday night’s homecoming game.

Instead, the Bulls did.

Remember that huge road victory over the Knicks on Friday? That was so 96 hours ago. Posting a second straight double-digit loss, the Bulls got blown out, 120-97, by Asik and the Rockets in their first Christmas Day home game in 15 years.

Don’t let a fun, fourth-quarter rally featuring Taj Gibson at center and four perimeter players fool anybody. The Bulls tied for the most points allowed in Thibodeau’s tenure, surrendered 56.1 percent shooting and were outrebounded for the fifth time in seven games.

“We were completely outplayed right from the start,” Thibodeau said. “My job is to have them ready. Obviously, we’re not ready. So that part’s on me.”

Asik’s dominant night featured 20 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks, falling one point and rebound shy of career highs. James Harden added 26 points, Chandler Parsons had 23 and Jeremy Lin finished with 20 points and 11 assists in the Rockets’ fourth straight win.

Houston enjoyed a 29-8 advantage in fast-break points and 66-32 in points in the paint.

“Our defense wasn’t very good,” Noah said. “Terrible Christmas.

“Omer was great rolling to the basket. We should’ve fouled him more.”

To make matter worse, Luol Deng turned his right ankle. Limping badly after the game, he said he’ll see if he can play Wednesday against the Pacers.

Nate Robinson scored all 27 of his points in the second half to lead the Bulls, who trailed by 35 on Asik’s tip-in with 4 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter. Marquis Teague came off the bench to team with Robinson and provide some energy, finishing with eight points, as the Bulls once closed to within 15.

Just like on Saturday in Atlanta, the Bulls collapsed in the second quarter, getting outscored 31-19.

The Bulls have been outscored 67-35 in the last two second quarters.

“We had a bad fourth quarter in New York,” Thibodeau said. “We had a bad performance in Atlanta. And we followed it up. Things can change very quickly in this league. If you don’t have an edge, you’re not going to win without playing with intensity.

“We’re not going to outscore people. So we have the wrong mindset right now.”

Asik has 13 double-doubles.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s a young team. ... We’re getting better each game.”

When Asik blocked Carlos Boozer and Harden scored on a three-point play in transition, the big man remained stoic, never cracking a smile. His teammates’ faces said it all.

“Omer is a big-time player,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “He was blocking shots, playing big, getting the break going. It was a big-time game.”

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