Jackson, timely 3s lift scorching Rockets over revamped Bulls

HOUSTON (AP) -- Bobby Jackson was lauded for his ability to be a spark off the bench when he was traded to Houston last week.

In his first game with the Rockets, the point guard delivered.

Jackson scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and helped Houston to its 12th straight win, a 110-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

Tracy McGrady had 24 points and eight assists as the Rockets won their 16th game in their last 17. Their current streak is their longest since their championship season of 1993-94, and the longest active streak in the NBA.

The Bulls kept it close through three quarters with help from their new players, but the Rockets' hot shooting in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.

Jackson, who played for Rockets coach Rick Adelman for five seasons in Sacramento, asked his coach what his role would be in Houston.

"I said: 'What you did in Sacramento,'" Adelman said. "He brings energy to the game on both ends of the court. I thought he really did that."

The Rockets were ahead by seven early in the fourth quarter before Jackson, who was traded from New Orleans, scored five straight points for Houston, capped by a nifty off-balance layup and the free throw that followed to make it 84-74.

Jackson said his time with Adelman in Sacramento helped make his transition to the Rockets go smoothly.

"That's a big plus," he said. "If I would have gotten traded and came to a situation where I didn't know the offense, it would have been a big mess."

Three straight 3-pointers by Luther Head, McGrady and Jackson about midway through the fourth quarter made it 92-78.

Everyone raved about Jackson's knowledge of Adelman's system and his play Sunday night. But McGrady couldn't get to the compliments before joking about a memorable fight the two had almost seven years ago when he played for Orlando.

Asked what he brought to the team, McGrady deadpanned: "Nothing, I wanted to fight him like I did in Orlando."

He offered his real feelings after the laughter died down.

"He brings experience and toughness and adds another shooter," he said.

Houston was ahead 96-84 when Shane Battier made three straight 3-pointers for the Rockets to push the lead to 16 points with about four minutes to play.

The Rockets made a season-high 13 3-pointers and shot 54 percent from long range, also a season best.

Houston led by two midway through the third quarter before three layups by Luis Scola sparked a 9-4 run to push the lead to 61-54 with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

A jumper by Kirk Hinrich got Chicago within two points later in the quarter, but 3s by McGrady and Battier helped the Rockets stretch their lead to 74-66 about four minutes later.

The Rockets led 77-68 entering the fourth quarter.

"With Tracy healthy and playing well, they are a tough team to stop," Bulls coach Jim Boylan said. "Houston got penetration and found guys spotting up at the corners. It wasn't just one guy, but their entire team."

Tyrus Thomas led the Bulls with 18 points, and Hinrich had 10 points and 10 assists.

The Bulls got significant playing time from Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes in their first game with Chicago since being traded from Cleveland in the deal that sent Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to the Cavaliers. Cedric Simmons, also acquired in the trade, had two points in about two minutes of play.

Hughes started strong, hitting his first two shots in his first-quarter debut and finished with 13 points. Gooden was in the game just 11 seconds before, getting his first foul in the first quarter. He finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, and had a nasty, two-handed slam dunk over Yao Ming in the third quarter that elicited several 'Wows' from the home crowd.

Ben Gordon, who had five points, said it could take a while to adjust to the new faces.

"We've got new guys in and there wasn't much chemistry," he said. "It was difficult and a tough night for me to get my rhythm."

The game was tied at 28 in the second quarter when Houston outscored the Bulls 9-2 in a little more than two minutes to take a 37-30 lead with about five minutes left in the quarter.

The Rockets led by five after a 3-pointer by Rafer Alston with 37 seconds left, but a long 3 by Thabo Sefolosha seconds later cut Houston's halftime lead to 49-46.

The Rockets trailed by five in the first quarter before going on 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by McGrady as the shot clock ran down, to take a 20-18 lead after one.

Game notes
Gerald Green, acquired by Houston in a trade with Minnesota on Thursday, was inactive, as was Shannon Brown, the fourth player sent to Chicago from Cleveland. ... Alston had a season-high four steals.