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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets blast Bulls 125-104 in preseason opener

POSTED: December 11, 2020 -- 11:50 p.m. CT

CHICAGO, IL (United Center) -- The Houston Rockets defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-104 Friday night in the preseason opener of the 2020-21 season for both teams. Bruno Caboclo, yep Bruno Caboclo, scored a team-high 17 points for Houston. Caboclo's claim to NBA fame is being the draft pick, in 2014, Fran Fraschilla said was "two years away from being two years away". Caboclo, 25, made 5 of 8 three-point shot attempts Friday night.

After the game, Stephen Silas, new Rockets head coach, said "Bruno can shoot the 3."

John Wall scored a driving layup to put Houston ahead 2-0. The Rockets led the rest of the ball game. In his first NBA game since December 2018, Wall scored 13 points, handed out 9 assists, pulled down 5 rebounds, and picked up 2 steals -- in 19 minutes.

Wall said, "I know how much hard work I've been through the last two years."

After Wall's layup, DeMarcus Cousins knocked down a three-point shot. Next, Cousins stole the ball and scored; then, he dribbled from the three-point line; reverse dribbled and scored a lefty layup off the glass for a 12-2 Houston lead. Cousins played 15 minutes in the game and produced 14 points (5 for 7 field goals - 3 for 4 threes); 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks).

Cousins has battled injuries the last few seasons; and, he was glad to return to the court and participate in an NBA game.

"I feel healthy," Cousins said. "I feel like everything went perfect."

Silas said of Wall and Cousins, "Step by step with those guys. As I said a few days ago, we really didn't know what to expect when those guys walk through the door. Both guys coming off injuries. They both played very well tonight.

"They applied a lot of the concepts that we've been talking about as far as our spacing and moving the basketball.

"They both looked really good. They were fun to watch.

"Hopefully, this will be something that we build upon; but, like I said, it's a day by day thing. So, we'll see how they feel tomorrow and plan accordingly for the next day."

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Houston led 37-26 after the first quarter and 68-48 at halftime. The Rockets shot 11 for 24 from three-point range in the opening half and 26 for 51 overall from the floor. Houston had 13 assists on the 26 baskets.

The Rockets finished the game with 25 assists on 43 buckets. Houston had just 6 team turnovers in the game compared to 21 team turnovers for the Bulls. The Rockets converted the Bulls' 21 turnovers into 35 points while allowing just 3 points off their 6 miscues.

Houston's 20 point lead at halftime ballooned to 30 (102-72) after three quarters. Houston led by as much as 32 points in the ball game.

Despite a lot of positives in the win, Coach Silas would like to see his team improve communication on defense as well as do a better job with "random actions" on offense.

"I think our random game has to be a little bit better," Silas acknowledged. "Our play calls we were pretty good when I drew stuff up after timeouts. But, coming down the floor, I felt like we got a little bit stagnant and didn't get in some random actions that are harder to guard. We'll watch film tomorrow and make sure everybody knows what I want; so, we can get on the same page.

"The defensive end -- the communication part -- I think we could've done a much better job communicating. Obviously, we're in an empty gym. They have the piped in music; the crowd noise; or whatever; but, I didn't hear enough on the defensive end from our guys so they can communicate and everybody can be in the right spots and on the same page."

Houston continues its 4-game preseason this Sunday, December 13, also against the Bulls in Chicago. Tip time is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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