CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy left a trail of blood when he headed off the court and into the locker room in the second quarter.
When Dunleavy returned to the game after getting 10 stitches above his right eye, he seemed to have a better view of the basket.
Playing with a large bandage of his eye, Dunleavy scored 18 of his team-high 21 points in the third quarter, leading the Bulls to an easy 111-87 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at the United Center.
The gash on Dunleavy’s forehead came when he successfully took a charge from Houston forward Chandler Parsons.
“It was a pretty tough hit. My neck is sore, a little bit of whiplash-type stuff,” Dunleavy said. “We’re a little concerned about that. I just knew once they got the stitches done, I was coming back.”
Dunleavy took another charge, against Rockets guard James Harden, just 1:29 after halftime. He survived that collision and drained 7 of 11 shots from the field in the third quarter.
“To me when you talk about toughness, that’s toughness,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Bulls (36-29) knocked down 14 of 24 shots from 3-point range. Houston leads the NBA in 3-pointers attempted but made just 5 of 26 from behind the arc.
Guard Kirk Hinrich added 19 points for the Bulls and forward Carlos Boozer scored 18. Center Joakim Noah barely missed his third triple-double of the season, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Dunleavy’s stitches provided fodder for a Noah comedy routine in the locker room.
“I think it inspired the team,” Noah said. “He had a huge knot on his head, looking like (boxer Evander) Holyfield, the white version. … It was good for Duke’s street credibility.”
The Bulls were pounded on Tuesday night by San Antonio, but have now won 12 of their last 13 games after a loss.
Guard Jeremy Lin led Houston with 21 points and center Dwight Howard added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Harden tied a season low by scoring eight points, and Parsons hit 1 of 11 shots from the field for two points.
The Rockets (44-21) have now lost two in a row after a stretch of winning 15 of 17 games. They will wrap up a three-game road trip at Miami on Sunday.
“We did not come out ready to play,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “I have no idea why. We were walking it up. We were not running. We were not coming off screens. We were not doing anything we said we needed to do.”
Leading 50-42 at intermission, Chicago broke the game open by opening the second half with a 20-2 run. At one point, the Bulls knocked down 3-point baskets on four of five possessions, two each by Hinrich and Dunleavy. When guard D.J. Augustin made a 3-pointer, the lead was 77-48 with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Boozer helped the Bulls get off to a fast start, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Chicago jumped to a quick 18-10 advantage and never trailed.
“Everything was lacking,” Harden said. “We didn’t stop them and they did whatever they wanted to on defense. We didn’t push the ball like we needed to and the score showed it.”
Howard picked up a technical foul with 2:36 left in the second quarter for complaining to a referee entering a timeout.
NOTES: Houston coach Kevin McHale gave a surprisingly unbiased opinion on Thursday, plugging Chicago C Joakim Noah for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. McHale’s starting center, Dwight Howard, has won it three times. “He (Noah) should be defensive player of the year,” McHale said at the morning shootaround. “They’ve been winning a lot just on his energy and effort, his kind of determination and toughness. Those are all qualities everybody appreciates.” … Houston G Patrick Beverley played an NBA game in his hometown of Chicago for the first time on Thursday. Beverley gave Howard a tour of his West Side neighborhood the day before the game. When Beverley was in high school, his Marshall team lost in the 2006 state semifinals to a Simeon squad featuring current Bulls G Derrick Rose. … The Rockets started the night with a 20-3 record against teams from the Eastern Conference, including 14-0 at home.
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