Kirk Hinrich picked the right time to find the basket, converting on a three-point play to unlock an 85-85 tie with 1:32 remaining, making amends for a 2-10 shooting night, and sending the Bulls home with a 94-89 win over the struggling Houston Rockets Saturday night.
Despite some sloppy play late, the Bulls finished up the historically treacherous West Coast Circus Trip with a three-game winning streak, capped off by the narrow victory over the Tracy McGrady-less Rockets.
Lead offensively by efficient shooting nights from Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, and Othella Harrington, the Bulls went up 11 at the end of the third quarter, and extended that lead to 15 early in the fourth.
At that point, Yao Ming took over for the Rockets, scoring 14 of his game-high 30 points in the final frame. Perhaps motivated by recent criticisms over his lack of aggressiveness, Yao stepped up in a big way, scoring every which way--hook shots, layups, fade-aways, and at the charity stripe. His final play, however, was his most consequential, as Yao committed his sixth foul on a driving Kirk Hinrich in what turned out to be three-point play, and the Rockets? death knell.