Final, Bulls win 94-80: That does that. Rajon Rondo’s debut as a TV commentator will forever go down as another Boston Celtics defeat.
The Chicago Bulls used a 17-2 run to begin the fourth quarter to run away with a convincing win. The loss was the fifth straight for the Celtics (23-51), who have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
Mike Dunleavy led the Bulls (42-32) with 22 points, although five Chicago players had 14 points or more. Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless notched 18 points apiece to lead the Celtics, with Bass adding nine rebounds.
The Celtics lost this game in the trenches and in attention to detail. They held the Bulls to 3-for-16 shooting from deep, but gave up 18 more points in the paint than they scored and had 17 assists versus 16 turnovers. The Bulls had 28 assists on 38 field goals and capitalized on Boston’s turnovers with 26 fast-break points.
Fourth quarter, 3:56, Bulls 88-77: The Celtics are trying really hard to fire their way back into the game from long range. It’s not really working.
Green, Bayless, Olynyk and Johnson all unleashed long jumpers or threes to try to wipe out a double-digit lead with one shot. Bayless finally hit one, but for some reason it only knocked three points off the deficit.
Fourth quarter, 5:42, Bulls 88-74: Bit by bit, the Bulls are inching farther away from the Celtics.
Naturally, Taj Gibson and Butler are helping them do it by hitting midrange jump shots as part of Chicago’s 17-2 run. Sure, neither of them is particularly known for that portion of their games, but it doesn’t matter; the Celtics have found all sorts of original ways to lose games, so they might as well stick to tradition.
Gibson is a lot better at dunking people, like he did on Humphries, who had to rotate late thanks to some slick ball movement. Noah to Butler to Gibson equaled a posterization for Gibson on Hump.
Fourth quarter, 9:30, Bulls 80-70: Maybe the Celtics are getting their fourth-quarter swoon out of the way early. Typically the Celtics have waited until the last couple of minutes to fritter the game away. Now, it appears they’re getting it out of the way early.
A jumper by Noah gives Chicago a double-digit lead as the Bulls have reeled off nine straight points to begin the frame. Hey, at least the Celtics haven’t committed any turnovers in the frame — yet.
End of third quarter, Bulls 71-70: Just to review, the Celtics are the team in the green jerseys. We want to make sure you all are aware of that, because the Celtics don’t appear to be.
The Celtics committed nine turnovers in the third quarter, which makes it mildly amazing that they only were outscored by three points. Still, the Bulls are capitalizing.
The Bulls are shooting just 46 percent from the field but have gotten a boost from all the Boston midhandles. Chicago has 21 fast-break points, a ridiculously high number for them, to give them the edge heading into the final quarter.
Third quarter, 5:25, Bulls 60-59: Points haven’t been easy to come by for either team, but Bass is doing his work.
Bass is challenging Noah, one of the league’s best defensive big men, keeping the Celtics in line with the Bulls early in the second half. Bass drew a foul off a screen-and-roll and then bullied through the lane for a sweeping hook shot right in Noah’s grill.
Halftime, Celtics 50-48: As Rondo moves back to the bench, the Celtics had into the locker room with a lead. But they did everything they could to give it away toward the end of the half.
The Celtics led by as many as nine points before coughing up the lead, letting the Bulls tie it up before Jerryd Bayless was fouled just before the buzzer sounded. Bayless dropped both free throws to match Brandon Bass as the Celtics’ leading scorer, with 10 points each. They’re still behind Jimmy Butler, the game’s leading scorer with 12.
The Celtics have survived thanks to taking care of the ball — they’ve committed a respectable seven turnovers — and limiting Chicago to just 1-for-6 from beyond the arc. The energy off the bench from Phil Pressey and Chris Johnson, who’ve combined for 11 points and four steals, hasn’t hurt, either.
Second quarter, 4:22, Celtics 46-37: Pressey and Johnson just keep coming and creating problems for Chicago. Pressey gets a steal-and-layup, which brings Kris Humphries leaping off the bench, and Johnson forces a turnover that Pressey turns into a layup for Bass at the other end.
Second quarter, 5:58, Celtics 41-35: Chris Johnson and Phil Pressey aren’t intimidated by the Bulls’ vaunted defense. Maybe it’s an undrafted player thing.
With Johnson and Pressey attacking, the Celtics’ offense got jump-started. Brandon Bass is banging down low and Kelly Olynyk is aggressive with his shot and his passing. He hasn’t hesitated to unleash a jumper and a three that caught twine. He just as quickly whipped a pass inside to Bass, who was fouled.
The Bulls only play one way, which is attacking, and the only way to beat them is to attack back.
Second quarter, 9:51, Celtics 32-25: OK, here’s a rules lesson for all you folks out there — and especially the Bulls fan who yelled, “Great call, way to draw the charge!” when Jeff Green’s dunk attempt over Mike Dunleavy was called off as a charge.
If any part of a defender’s body is inside the half-circle around the rim when an offensive player begins his shot, it’s going to be a defensive foul (if called right). Getting the heel up and off the circle, as Dunleavy did, doesn’t matter. Imagine the circle extending upward toward the ceiling like a cylinder; if the defender breaks the vertical plane of that cylinder, it’s not a charge.
Missed call. Now you know.
End of first quarter, Bulls 25-24: Sometimes it takes Bayless a while to warm up, but once he does, watch out. He’s getting an early start tonight, though.
Bayless knocked down three of his first four shots, including a rare fast-break corner 3-pointer, to give the Celtics the edge midway through the quarter. He and Bradley are sharing Rondo’s usual playmaking role so far. They’ve combined for five of Boston’s seven assists.
The Celtics need hot shooting from somewhere because Jimmy Butler came out gunning. Butler is known for his defense, not his shooting, but he nailed his first three shots as the Bulls ran out to an early eight-point advantage.
As for Rondo, his performance has been solid so far for a first-timer. He’s been reticent to speak up, but once Gorman gets him talking, Rondo’s intelligence and insight are obvious.
Rondo also got some popcorn down his collar, courtesy of Benny the Bull, as you can see in the tweet below. [tweet https://twitter.com/ESPNForsberg/status/450790211992051712 align=’center’]
First quarter, 6:30, Bulls 15-9: One thing is for sure: The Celtics are better with Rondo on the court than in the broadcaster’s chair.
The Celtics are 4-for-9 in the early going, which is neither great nor terrible. But where they really seem to be missing Rondo right now is on the defensive end. Jerryd Bayless does a solid job, but he doesn’t trouble ballhandlers the way Rondo and Avery Bradley can together.
As a result, the Bulls are having an easy time of running their offense. They have five assists on their six baskets, showing just how easily the ball is moving around.
7:10 p.m.: Celtics fans aren’t the only ones looking forward to Rondo’s first foray into TV announcing. Mike Gorman, his partner, is equally amped, from the sound of this tweet. [tweet https://twitter.com/celticsvoice/status/450768034354167808 align=’center’]
For one night, he gets to live the dream and pretend he’s among the elites: The sports media of the world. (OK, maybe not so much.) [tweet https://twitter.com/Murf56/status/450770191383670784 align=’center’]
The projected starters appear below.
5:35 p.m.: Rajon Rondo’s broadcasting debut will run a little longer than expected. Rondo will provide color commentary for the entire first half, not just the first quarter, according to Celtics team reporter Marc D’Amico. [tweet https://twitter.com/Marc_DAmico/status/450746653629095936 align=’center’]
Rondo was originally slated to join play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman for the first quarter of Monday’s game in Chicago. Rondo is sitting out the game as he continues to rest on the second nights of back-to-backs. He played 38 minutes in Sunday’s 107-102 loss to the Bulls, recording 17 points and 11 assists.
8 a.m. ET: D.J. Augustin will be the happiest man in Chicago on Monday.
Augustin, who dropped 33 points on the Boston Celtics on Sunday, gets another crack at them on Monday. The Bulls (41-32) host the Celtics (23-50) in the second end of a rare home-and-home back-to-back. But Jared Sullinger and the Celtics aren’t dreading facing Augustin. Far from it.
“Everybody knows how frustrating that is when you don’t win,” Sullinger said. “I’m pretty sure everyone in here at one point is a sore loser. But we get to see them (Monday). It’s like a mini playoff series, so hopefully we’ll bounce back.”
This game marks Rajon Rondo’s first foray into the broadcaster’s chair. Rondo will provide color commentary for one quarter on the TV broadcast as he continues to sit out the second game whenever Boston plays two games in two days. This … should be interesting.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m.