The Houston Rockets lost another game Wednesday night without two of their best defenders in Dillon Brooks and Tari Eason due to injury. The Rockets fell to the Chicago Bulls in overtime and dropped to 18-18 on the season. Brooks hasn't played since right after Christmas, while Eason hasn't played since New Year's Day. So, when will these two be back?

For Eason, each game since his season debut has been a game-time decision. The forward in his sophomore year suffered a stress reaction leg injury in a preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, which prolonged his expected arrival to the Rockets' bench as a primary depth piece. Eason has played extremely well this season when he has played, but this injury continues to linger. According to Rockets reporter Lachard Binkley of SB Nation, Ime Udoka mentioned Eason may be out for at least another week.

Eason has been sorely missed

Tari Eason with the Rockets logo in the background injury

This approach to fully heal Tari Eason's leg is to prevent any further serious injury moving forward. The LSU product is an important part of how the Rockets play team basketball. Houston's plus-10.1 efficiency differential with Eason on the court vs. off adds an expected 23 wins, according to Cleaning The Glass. He also ranks in the 99th percentile in offensive rebound percentage and has a monster impact on the defense.

With Eason and Dillon Brooks off the court with an oblique injury, Ime Udoka's defense has been slipping. During their five-game stretch without both of these key defensive stoppers, Houston has gone 2-3, giving up 115 points on average after the heartbreaking overtime loss in Chicago.

The Bulls, not known for three-point shooting (23rd in the NBA), turned into the 2016 Golden State Warriors against Houston on Wednesday night. Chicago shot 19-of-47 (40.4%) from beyond the arc, including multiple clutch triples in the extra period.

Aside from Fred VanVleet and Jabari Smith Jr.'s perimeter defense, it was rather easy for Chicago to effectively penetrate the perimeter, flushing Houston's wings with screens, cuts, and kicks all around the arc. At times, Alperen Sengun would be switched to the top of the key, which is certainly ill-advised. Eason or Brooks would have halted this three-point barrage if they were available to play.

Brooks might be back soon

Dillon Brooks, who is playing excellent basketball right now for Ime Udoka and the Rockets.

After their next game against the lowly Detroit Pistons, it's going to be a tough stretch without help on the defensive end. Houston will spend the next three of four games on the East Coast, first against the Boston Celtics, then the Philadelphia 76ers, and finishing up with the New York Knicks. Each of these teams are playoff contenders, with the Celtics arguably being the best team in the NBA. On the bright side, Brooks is expected to rejoin the team sometime during this road trip. This helps a little as the starting lineup will go back to normal.

The Rockets have gone 3-6 since the injuries piled up on the two forwards (including the loss to the Indiana Pacers in which Brooks got hurt), resulting in a 117.9 defensive rating in that stretch. When it comes to the bench, substantial replacements are a mixed bag. Jae'Sean Tate can't score effectively, and his off-ball defense is a nightmare. Jeff Green is 37 and shouldn't receive more than 20 minutes. Also, Cam Whitmore is barely scratching the NBA surface and is still a bit lost, even while showing potential.