Bulls go 12 deep in rotation, get buried by Rockets

The boos started at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter.

They were loud, and they were well-deserved.

James Harden passed up an easy layup for a flip-and-dunk to teammate Clint Capela to give the Rockets a 27-point lead.

Not really appreciated by the United Center crowd, but not the reason they were booing, either.

Rockets guard James Harden drives between Bulls forward Cristiano Felicio (left) and guard Michael Carter-Williams on Friday at the United Center. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

No, the displeasure was about the home team, which fell 115-94 to Houston for its fourth consecutive loss. The Bulls are sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs again.

Jimmy Butler did his job.

The three-time All-Star shot 6-for-12 from the field, looked to distribute the ball and get teammates involved like the coaches have asked and kept Harden in check.

Dwyane Wade did his job.

The three-time NBA champion scored 12 points in the first quarter, giving the Bulls (31-34) a 10-point lead after the first 12 minutes.

Everyone else?

A train wreck that once again spoke volumes about how this team was constructed and the on-the-fly fixes that have tried to infuse youth into the rotation.

Twelve players saw action for the Bulls, something that is not optimal for a team pushing for the playoffs in March.

“It’s not my job, man,’’ Butler said, when asked about playing 12 guys with 17 games remaining. “I can’t go and say what Coach should do. That’s what he’s there for. I think everybody that you see around this locker room wants to go out there and play ball, hoop, to the best of our abilities. We can’t control the lineups, the rotation, that’s not us.’’

It might not be Fred Hoiberg, either. The coach said that everything would be evaluated moving forward, but privately several players have heard that the front office has mandated seeing as many of the young players as possible.

That’s not really fair for the team or Hoiberg, who has to wear these losses on his resume.

Wade was asked if he signed with the Bulls to play on a developmental team.

“I’m not getting in trouble anymore,’’ said Wade, who fined by the team earlier in the season for speaking out.

Asked if he felt comfortable enough to tell the front office that this approach doesn’t work, Wade said, “I sit in the locker room. I’ve got a jersey. I don’t wear a suit. It’s not my job. My job is to play.’’

So how did that youth movement do against the 45-21 Rockets?

How about a combined 16-for-52 from Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams, Joffrey Lauvergne, Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser and Cameron Payne.

Meanwhile, Nikola Mirotic, who is not in the future plans, was the only player not to see action.

“It’s different, it’s difficult,’’ Butler said of trying to win and develop players at the same time. “Everybody out there is trying to do the right thing and sometimes it’s a little much. But I guess everybody is learning right now. Hopefully we start winning and end up where we want to be.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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