Boston is a marginally physical team right now without Kevin Garnett and now Rasheed Wallace, who may return Monday against Dallas.
The Bulls held a 50-39 rebounding advantage, had 10 blocked shots and forced 18 turnovers in what amounts to a huge win for them. Chicago entered the game just 3-13 on the road and begins a seven-game trip in a few days.
As for the Celtics, they will try to enjoy a three-day layoff (the last of the season aside from the All-Star break) and get their legs under them. This is a weary bunch that just played two back-to-backs in a span of five days.
I would imagine Doc Rivers will be giving them some time at home before the Mavericks come to town on Monday. We will be following that one at NESN.com, so stick with us as we break it all down. Tip is set for 8:00 p.m.
Fourth quarter, 1:48, Bulls 90-80: They are heading for the exits in droves after Derrick Rose plows through the lane for a lefty lay-in.
Prior to that, the Celtics' last gasp came in the form of a missed 3-pointer by Ray Allen, who has not enjoyed a good night.
Allen has missed all four of his shots from beyond the arc and has just eight points and zero assists in 34 minutes.
The last time Allen did not have a 3-pointer was Dec. 3 at San Antonio. The last time he did not have an assist was last March 29 vs. Oklahoma City.
Fourth quarter, 2:17, Bulls 88-80: Taj Gibson records the 10th blocked shot for Chicago, a huge factor in this game.
Fourth quarter, 3:42, Bulls 86-80: Paul Pierce hits a 3-pointer and the Celtics are within six points. Again.
It feels as if they've been within between four and eight points for an eternity. Give the Bulls credit for fending them off, because you get the sense that if Boston ever gets to the top of the mountain, it would be downhill for Chicago.
Fourth quarter, 4:30, Bulls 85-77: Boston's 18th turnover of the night is a bad one and leads to another easy basket for the Bulls.
After making a nice steal underneath, Rajon Rondo attempted a cross-court pass on the break that never had a chance. Rookie Taj Gibson easily picked it off and seconds later took a feed from Derrick Rose for a dunk.
It was a deflating four-point swing.
Fourth quarter, 6:05, Bulls 83-75: Finally, someone makes a couple of free throws. It's Paul Pierce, who had been 3-of-6 from the line before cashing in to pull the C's within eight.
Fourth quarter, 7:15, Bulls 77-71: Another missed free throw by Kendrick Perkins and the Celts are now 10-of-22 from the line.
Fourth quarter, 7:52, Bulls 75-71: Paul Pierce is your power forward right now.
Fourth quarter, 9:04, Bulls 75-67: When the Celtics go with the Rondo-House backcourt, it often forces Ray Allen to try to guard someone he cannot.
That was evident immediately as Allen was forced to foul a bigger and stronger Luol Deng.
Fourth quarter, 9:24, Bulls 74-67: The Celtics just can't find a way to get this thing to a one-possession game as the Bulls bury a shot each time it gets to five or six points.
We are probably a minute or so from seeing the C's starters return for the stretch run, but don't be surprised to see Glen Davis stay out there in place of Brian Scalabrine, as has been the pattern of late.
Coming out of the break, Doc Rivers has the Rajon Rondo-Eddie House combo in the backcourt, a pairing that has worked well in recent games.
Fourth quarter, 10:19, Bulls 72-67: Eddie House entered this game as the Celtics' unlikely leading scorer against the Bulls this season with an average of 18.5 points in the two meetings.
He now has 11 on 5-of-5 shooting in this one.
Fourth quarter, 11:30, Bulls 70-65: Glen Davis wins a jump ball against his friend Tyrus Thomas but only because Eddie House sprinted into the backcourt to swipe the ball from Kirk Hinrich.
House then layed it in to give the C's a great start to the fourth.
End of third quarter, Bulls 70-63: This might be one of those games you lose by a few points and then look at the stat sheet and curse how many you gave away at the line.
The Celtics are 10-for-21 at the charity stripe.
Third quarter, 37.0 seconds: Bulls 68-63: Eddie House drains a 3-pointer to get the C's as close as they've been all half, and after a Brad Miller hoop, Rajon Rondo scores to pull Boston back within five points.
The Celtics are on an 8-2 run.
On a side note, Boston's bench has made all six of its shots and has 15 points. Chicago's is 4-of-20 from the floor with 10 points.
Third quarter, 3:07, Bulls 66-57: Kendrick Perkins misses 1 of 2 free throws and the Celtics are now 10-of-19 from the line.
Third quarter, 4:11, Bulls 62-56: Kendrick Perkins has an impressive block of Taj Gibson's dunk attempt and Rajon Rondo converts on the other end — and this place has come to life.
Third quarter 7:24, Bulls 60-47: Six straight points by Chicago and it has now matched its largest lead, prompting a 20-second timeout by Doc Rivers.
The mismatch of the night thus far has been Kirk Hinrich severely outplaying Ray Allen. Although Hinrich did some of his damage against Rajon Rondo earlier, he has been a force tonight on both with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Allen, meanwhile, has six points and no assists in 22 minutes.
Third quarter, 8:59, Bulls 54-47: These extended national TV commercial breaks are just brutal. The players are all sitting on the edge of the scorer's table just twiddling their thumbs and waiting for it to end.
Third quarter, 8:59, Bulls 54-47: A quick little 4-0 burst for the C's as Paul Pierce makes a pair of free throws and Rajon Rondo slices into the lane for an easy layup.
Third quarter, 10:27, Bulls 51-41: Brian Scalabrine picks up his fourth foul here early in the third quarter.
Not that Scalabrine uses his height or can pretend to be an interior presence in any way, but the loss of any size hurts this team right now. They are just so limited up front.
Third quarter, 11:55, Bulls 47-39: We are underway in the second half and may finally see Derrick Rose for an extended run here.
Rose played just 8:15 of the first half due to foul trouble, recording four points. That doesn't bode well for the Celtics.
Halftime, Bulls 47-39: The Bulls score six straight points before Eddie House gives the C's something to build on with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
But otherwise, a poor showing by the shorthanded C's thus far.
They shot poorly, turned the ball over 11 times and were beaten on the boards consistently.
Chicago's interior dominance is most evident, perhaps, in its seven blocked shots. It's probably my imagination, but it seems as if every one has come on Paul Pierce, whose lift just is not there at all. He has been swallowed up by Bulls defenders with every drive. Chicago entered leading the NBA with an average of 6.1 blocks per game.
Back in a bit to see if the C's can turn things around.
Second quarter, 1:49, Bulls 41-36: A great sequence for Brian Scalabrine gives the Celtics a little life.
First, he drains a 3-pointer and then saves a ball from going out on the other end by tipping it to Rajon Rondo while on the floor. Rondo finds Ray Allen for a basket that makes it all worth it.
Second quarter, 2:52, Bulls 39-31: An uneven first half so far for Paul Pierce, who has a team-high four assists but is just 2-of-8 from the floor and has been burned repeatedly by Luol Deng.
Deng has 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
Before Brian Scalabrine just scored with a hard layup, the C's had gone nearly three minutes with no points, during which they had three shots blocked, missed two others and had a shot clock violation. They are threatening to post their lowest-scoring half this season, set against Miami in November at 37.
Second quarter, 5:29, Bulls 35-29: Tony Allen's jumper moments ago is wiped away as it came after the shot clock had expired, referees ruled.
Glen Davis makes both free throws anyway to get the points back.
Second quarter, 5:29, Bulls 35-29: Tony Allen beats the shot clock with a jumper and then Glen Davis gets to the line moments later. He will try to pull the C's a bit closer after the timeout.
As it stands, Boston is on a 9-2 run.
On another note, Luol Deng has yet to miss in four attempts for the Bulls and leads all scorers with 10 points. Interestingly enough, Chicago as a team has made just eight of its last 27 shots.
Second quarter, 8:00, Bulls 33-25: Sure, Derrick Rose is a great young player, but he is young and just showed it again.
Rose returned with 8:27 left in the second quarter with two fouls. He left with 8:02 left with his third.
Second quarter, 8:28, Bulls 33-25: The crowd goes crazy when the Bulls fail to score despite multiple offensive rebounds. Not really what you want the home crowd to get excited about.
It underlies one of the biggest issues with this Celtics team right now, without two of its top rebounders in Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.
Chicago owns a 19-13 advantage on the boards.
Second quarter, 10:05, Bulls 30-20: It's amazing to think this is the same team that scored 71 points in the first half on Wednesday night.
Boston is shooting 42 percent from the floor, is 4-of-11 from the line and has seven turnovers.
Second quarter, 11:22, Bulls 30-18: Consecutive turnovers by the Celtics to start the second quarter and this has been somewhat of a one-sided affair thus far.
End of first quarter, Bulls 29-18: Kirk Hinrich was taken out early in this one and only returned after Derrick Rose left with two fouls. It seemed like a good exchange for the Celtics at the time, but Hinrich just blew up.
The oft-injured guard finished the first quarter with six points, three rebounds and three assists. He scored two layups in the final minute.
First quarter, 1:44, Bulls 25-15: Rajon Rondo had seemingly solved his foul-shooting woes, but he is 3-of-7 early in this one.
First quarter, 2:34, Bulls 23-14: A ton of substitutions early in this one as the two coaches have combined to make six in the game's first nine-plus minutes.
Brad Miller hit a jumper upon entering for the Bulls, eliciting groans throughout the Garden. Miller is not loved here and if you recall, he and Rajon Rondo continued their little rivalry when the teams last met Dec. 12. Keep an eye on those two.
First quarter, 3:57, Bulls 19-12: Vinny Del Negro cannot be happy about this. With the shot clock about to expire, Derrick Rose fouls Rajon Rondo on a desperation heave, giving Rondo three free throws and sending Rose to the bench with his second foul.
Rondo missed two of the foul shots and the Celts are 2-of-7 from the line so far.
First quarter, 4:14, Bulls 19-11: Kendrick Perkins has returned the favor a bit on Joakim Noah. Perk had a putback on a missed free throw by Paul Pierce and just hit a fadeaway over Noah to get the C's back within eight.
First quarter, 6:15, Bulls 17-10: Joakim Noah just blew by Kendrick Perkins on a drive as if Perkins was asleep. Noah had a little something to say about it following the hoop. No surprise there.
First quarter, 6:44, Bulls 15-6: Luol Deng drives easily to the basket for a hoop, running the Bulls' surge to 9-0.
Doc Rivers said before the game he had no concerns about the Celtics being a bit lax after Wednesday night's cakewalk in New Jersey. Early indications are that Rivers may have been a bit off in that assessment, at least on the defensive side of things.
Chicago is 6-of-9 from the floor and has already scored 10 points in the paint.
First quarter, 7:35, Bulls 13-6: It's a 7-0 run for Chicago after rookie Taj Gibson has a follow slam that came about a bit too easy. It seems Brian Scalabrine lost him underneath.
First quarter, 8:40, Bulls 9-6: A little full-court man-to-man by the Bulls after a made free throw by Joakim Noah. No issues in breaking it but we'll see if they go to that a bit to slow the Celtics setting up into their offense.
First quarter, 9:50, Bulls 6-4: Derrick Rose strikes first in his matchup with Rajon Rondo, hitting a fallaway to give Chicago its first lead.
First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We are underway in this one and there were no late injury notes as there were the last two times the C's played at home, when Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace were both late scratches.
8:07 p.m.: Just a reminder that this one is on national TV and may start a bit later than usual.
7:33 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden, where we just received the injury update from Doc Rivers, with no major surprises.
Rivers confirmed that Rasheed Wallace is out until Monday vs. Dallas or Wednesday at Detroit, at the latest. As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers opened the door just a bit.
"There's an outside chance that [Friday against Portland] would be the return game," Rivers said of Garnett. "Outside chance."
Rivers reiterated that Garnett has continued to run and may be able to fully practice soon.
"I'm just glad that he's running. We'll have a couple of practices next week where we can see if he can get on the floor with us."
Brian Scalabrine will get his third straight start in Wallace's place, alongside Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins.
The Bulls, who are 3-13 on the road, start Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.
12:44 p.m.: Coming off their easiest win of the season, the Celtics return home to face another opponent that has offered up little resistance this season in the Chicago Bulls.
The tip at the TD Garden is set for just after 8 p.m., and the contest will be carried on national TV. We will be courtside bringing you all the action as Boston completes its second back-to-back this week.
The Celtics are 2-0 against the Bulls with an average margin of victory of 27.0 points. When the teams first met at the Garden back in October, Boston shot 58.1 percent from the floor in a 118-90 rout.
The matchup to watch is always Rajon Rondo against Chicago star point guard Derrick Rose. The two shined in the memorable playoff series between the two teams last spring, but Rondo has had the edge in 2009-10, averaging 15.0 assists and limiting the high-scoring Rose to 14.5 points and just five total assists.
Rondo had 10 dimes before halftime in the C's 111-87 rout of New Jersey on Wednesday. Boston was able to rest its regulars, which should help with the quick turnaround — Boston is just 4-3 in the second half of back-to-backs this season.
Do not expect Rasheed Wallace to return from his left foot injury as of yet. With three days off after the Bulls game, he will likely be given the weekend to get well.
Chicago has won six of nine after a 10-17 start.
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