Bulls Look to Give Houston Second Loss in as Many Games Tonight

Team Page: Chicago :: Houston

61% of The Public Betting Chicago +5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
After ending last season 34-48, the Houston Rockets gotten off to an impressive start so far. Tracy McGrady's impact - or lack thereof - has been one of the more surprising parts of it.

McGrady and the Rockets look to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season Thursday when they host the Chicago Bulls at the Toyota Center.

Oddsmakers have made Houston -5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for tonights game,

the over/under has been set at 179 total points (View NBA Sports Books).

McGrady, who averaged 24.4 points while playing just 47 games in an injury-shortened 2005-06 season, is shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor and averaging 18.6 points. The swingman said an adjustment to his game might be necessary.

``I find myself settling sometimes for jumpers,'' McGrady told rockets.com. ``I'm still confident that if I miss one shot that the next one will go in. I do, however, want to attack more and get to the free throw line a lot more.''

McGrady had one of his better games Tuesday in a 92-84 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that ended Houston's four-game winning streak. He scored 26 points and added eight rebounds and six assists, while Yao Ming added 20 points.

Houston held a 74-55 lead in the third quarter, but went without a field goal for eight minutes while San Antonio rallied with a 20-1 run. Clinging to a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Rockets missed 11 of their first 12 shots in the final period and shot a season-low 38.1 percent for the game.

``It was a team letdown defensively,'' said McGrady, who had a combined 25 points the previous two games. ``In order for us to be at the level that San Antonio is at, we have to learn how to close these types of games out.

``Until we learn how to do that, we're going to be good, but we're not going to be San Antonio good. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes.''

McGrady scored 35 points in a 109-102 double-overtime win at Chicago last season, but did not play in the team's 94-89 loss at home because of back spasms.

The Bulls (3-4) lost the first game of its annual circus trip, falling 111-99 on Tuesday to the Dallas Mavericks to begin a seven-game road swing. Kirk Hinrich scored 25 points and Luol Deng added 24, but Chicago struggled defensively as Dallas shot 50 percent from the field.

``I felt like even though we made it close a few times, they were just toying with us. They really made it look easy,'' coach Scott Skiles said. ``They were quicker than us all over the floor, just an all around better team from top to bottom.''

The Bulls have lost three straight on the road since a season-opening win in Miami over the defending champion Heat. Skiles altered the lineup for Tuesday's game, inserting guard Chris Duhon and forward Andres Nocioni while bringing Ben Gordon and P.J. Brown off the bench.

Gordon finished with 17 points, his highest output in three games. The Bulls guard has struggled this season and has been held under 10 points four times. He entered the game shooting 38.8 percent (31-of-80) from the field, and just 11.1 percent (2-for-18) in the previous two games.

``Ben is arguably our most talented offensive player,'' Skiles said. ``When I see him going through some struggles, I have to wonder if he's better suited to this role.''

The Rockets have won six of the last seven and 10 of the last 14 games against Chicago.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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