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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Bulls look to avoid rare 3-game skid

By Nick Friedell

Tom Thibodeau
The Bulls haven't lost 3 straight regular-season games under Tom Thibodeau, but that's in danger.
HOUSTON -- The Chicago Bulls haven't lost three consecutive regular-season games during Tom Thibodeau 2-plus seasons as head coach, but that could change Wednesday night if the Bulls don't start playing better defense.

The Bulls play the Houston Rockets after yielding at least 100 points in four straight games.

"The big thing I think that's hurt us is turning the ball over," Thibodeau said before Wednesday morning's shootaround. "Particularly when you do so on the road, you put a team in the open floor, and now you're giving easy baskets up. We want teams to have to go against our set defense.

"I do like the fact that I think we've been very unselfish. The ball is moving. We have to make better decisions, take care of the ball. Our defense and our rebounding have been average at best. We have to step up in those two areas. We understand that if you defend, rebound and keep your turnovers down you're going to be in position to win. So those are three areas that we can improve upon and then playing inside out and sharing the ball. Sharing the ball has been very good all year, I just want us to do it more efficiently."

Thibodeau and his players are well aware of the streak, but they believe they just need to calm down and focus on getting better.

"We just need to go out there and play," Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich said. "I just think sometimes it's a little bit of indecision. Sometimes lack of execution. We're going to go out there and play hard and not think about it too much."

Facing Lin: Lost in the midst of a reunion with Omer Asik and facing James Harden for the first time in a Rockets uniform is the fact that the Bulls will be seeing Jeremy Lin for the first time in Houston as well. They faced him last year in Chicago when he was playing with the Knicks.

"You still see the quickness, the strength, very tough off the dribble," he said. "I think he's still getting used to being with a new team even though he was here for a part of last year. But he's very, very talented, he's strong, he makes them play with pace. He's a very good player."

Lin enters the game averaging 10.5 points and 6.6 assists.

Hinrich, who will likely start the game guarding Lin, believes it's crucial to stay physical with the young point guard.

"You just have to make him feel you," Hinrich said. "We've been a very good defensive team and they're a team that likes to get up and down, shoot a lot of threes and we have to be ready for that."

The last word: Hinrich, who is shooting just 29.6 percent from the field this season, is hoping his shot will start going down more.

"I'm just trying to let it go and not focus on it. I've been getting extra shots and I'm confident that the percentages are going to come back around."