Final: Celtics 110, Bulls 105. For the second consecutive game, the Celtics have gone to overtime with a tough Central Division foe at the TD Garden. And for the second consecutive game, they come out on top.
The C's defeat the Chicago Bulls, 110-105, in a thrilling 53 minutes. The Bulls fight for dear life all the way, but C's make the plays down the stretch and pull it out.
Ray Allen finishes with 25 points for the Celtics, who improve to 4-0 at home this season and 5-1 overall.
They've got a day off Saturday before taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.
Overtime, 13.4 seconds, Celtics 110-105: Glen Davis gets to the line and hits two. That should do it, unless the Bulls have one last trick up their sleeve.
Overtime, 38.7 seconds, Celtics 108-105: Luol Deng comes up big. The Bulls are still alive.
Overtime, 1:19, Celtics 108-103: Wow. First Kevin Garnett successfully takes a charge from Derrick Rose, and then the C's get a high-flying dunk from Ray Allen to make it a two-possession game.
They're ready to finish this thing now. One more stop will push the Bulls to the brink.
Overtime, 1:40, Celtics 106-103: Glen Davis gets to the line and hits one of two free throws. The Celtics' lead is now three. Tom Thibodeau calls for a timeout.
The Bulls have plenty of time. They've got plenty of guys that can knock down 3s, but no need to rush one.
Deng and Noah each had monster fourth quarters, but they've both been quiet in overtime. It's been Gibson, Korver, and a little bit of Rose carrying the load these last few minutes.
Who steps up now?
Overtime, 2:04, 103-103: Derrick Rose hits his first two free throws of the night.
The Bulls need Rose to be their go-to guy in these final two minutes. He's the leader of this team — he needs to step up.
Overtime, 2:53, Celtics 103-101: Kyle Korver temporarily deafens the Garden with a long 3, but guess what? Ray Allen strokes one right back.
The C's are back in control of this game.
Can they hold on?
Overtime, 4:34, Celtics 98-96: Paul Pierce gets first crack at the Bulls to open the overtime period. He hits a mid-range jumper. C's lead by two.
End of fourth quarter, 96-96: For the second time this week, we're headed for overtime at the TD Garden.
Derrick Rose holds onto the ball for the last shot, but he loses control of the ball with about four seconds to go, and the buzzer sounds before either team can establish control of the ball.
We've seen 48 amazing minutes. Let's play five more.
Fourth quarter, 23.3 seconds, 96-96: Huge development here — the C's almost turn the ball over, but a diving Keith Bogans falls out of bounds as he wrestles a loose ball away from Ray Allen. Then the official rules that Bogans called timeout, meaning the Bulls take the ball away for the final possession.
That will reset the shot clock with under 24 seconds to play. That means the Bulls have the ball for the final shot of the game. They have a chance to go for the win right now.
They just played an overtime contest two nights ago against the visiting Bucks. You can bet they want no part of another.
Fourth quarter, 34.2 seconds, 96-96: Kevin Garnett comes down with the biggest rebound off the game off a miss from Taj Gibson.
If the C's can withstand this firestorm of Deng and Noah buckets to win this game, it would be huge. They're certainly in the driver's seat now, holding the ball with 34.2 seconds remaining in a tie game.
Doc Rivers has called a timeout. Let's see if he's got one more good play in him.
Fourth quarter, 1:18, 96-96: Luol Deng strikes again. We're all tied up.
Fourth quarter, 2:25, Celtics 94-91: Luol Deng just hit a big 3, slicing the Boston lead in half.
You can never count out a team with this many deadly shooters.
Fourth quarter, 3:07, Celtics 92-86: The Celtics string together a huge 5-0 run — Ray Allen three-point play, Paul Pierce tip-in off a Rondo miss.
They're back in control. Now they need a couple of stops to put this game away.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson have been battling all night. They're not about to lay down and die.
Fourth quarter, 3:59, Celtics 87-86: Would it surprise anyone if Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose just traded baskets the rest of the way? Because it looks like that's where we're headed.
Rondo makes a big play here to put the C's in front, knocking down an eight-foot jumper.
The Bulls are down one, and Tom Thibodeau has called for a timeout.
Rondo has snuck up on the Bulls with 10 points and nine assists. Even on a somewhat off night, he's still quite a bit on.
Fourth quarter, 5:42, Bulls 82-81: C.J. Watson had been a non-factor up until now — but here he is with the 3 to put the Bulls in front. They lead for the first time since the second quarter.
The C's have all five starters have on the floor. They need to take a stand now.
Fourth quarter, 6:37, Celtics 81-77: Another big shot from Jermaine O'Neal to keep the Bulls at bay. J.O. now has 12 very quiet points.
The Bulls have the momentum, but the C's keep making plays.
Joakim Noah is a really tough matchup for these Celtics. Glen Davis has the IQ and the energy to guard Noah, but Noah's just too tall and too long.
Pierce and Garnett remain on the bench — but for how long? The Celtics' other three starters are on the floor.
Fourth quarter, 8:51, Celtics 77-73: The mistakes are starting to add up for the Celtics. A Ray Allen turnover leads to a monster dunk in transition for Ronnie Brewer. In tennis parlance, that's what you call an unforced error. Ray just lost control of his dribble.
The Bulls have the energy to make this a game. They refuse to go away. Tom Thibodeau has this team battling for every single 50-50 ball. It's a wonder to watch.
Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah appear to be playing this entire second half without a breather. Unless we're in for a repeat of Thursday in New York, when he pulled them both in crunch time.
Fourth quarter, 10:21, Celtics 75-66: Doc Rivers has four backups on the floor along with Ray Allen, and one of those backups just hit a big shot.
Nate Robinson just nailed a corner 3 off an assist from Allen, pushing the Celtics' lead back to nine points.
It's Nate, Erden, Daniels and Davis on the floor with Allen, the lone starter.
Thibodeau is giving Noah and Rose big minutes in this second half.
End of third quarter, Celtics 72-64: It takes a big jumper from Nate Robinson to put the Celtics back in control of this game at the end of the third quarter. The Bulls got dangerously close at 70-64, but Nate slams the door on that in a hurry.
The C's are banged up a little bit right now — aside from their hobbled bigs, Rondo still has the sore feet, and Kevin Garnett looks a step slower as well.
It'll be a true test to see if they can hold onto this lead in the fourth quarter. This is a big Eastern Conference matchup, and a win would be a big early-season statement.
Third quarter, 1:48, Celtics 70-60: The Bulls' bigs are doing work in this third quarter. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are the two biggest reasons Chicago is still in this game — Noah now has 15 points and six boards in this game, while Gibson has 16 and five.
The Bulls aren't going away.
And for that matter, neither are their starters. Tom Thibodeau hasn't dipped into his bench one bit in this third quarter.
Stark contrast with Thursday night, when he held his starters off the floor in crunch time against the Knicks.
Third quarter, 5:03, Celtics 66-52: Only one thing swings the momentum of a game better than a Ray Allen 3 — a Ray Allen four-point play.
Ray gets a trifecta and a foul here. The Celtics' lead opens from 10 to 14.
The Bulls had better string some stops together, and fast. This one's starting to slip away.
Third quarter, 5:37, Celtics 62-52: Jermaine O'Neal had two points at halftime. He now has 10.
A pair of free throws from J.O. here makes it a double-digit lead again. The Bulls seem to have had the momentum for most of this third quarter, but the Celtics keep making enough plays to stay comfortably ahead.
Third quarter, 7:53, Celtics 56-46: You knew the Bulls wouldn't go away without a fight, right? It's an 8-2 run in the third quarter, cutting the Boston lead back to a manageable 10.
Luol Deng started his night quietly, but he's turned it on. Expect Deng to shoot the lights out if Paul Pierce falls asleep on him.
This third quarter will test the Celtics' mettle defensively.
Third quarter, 10:20, Celtics 54-38: The Celtics start the third quarter right where they left off in the second, ripping off a quick 5-0 run.
Included in that streak: A free throw stemming from a technical foul by Joakim Noah, tacked on to the end of the first half. Apparently Noah never stops getting under the officials' skin, even after the final buzzer sounds.
Halftime, Celtics 49-38: It's hard to believe the Bulls led this game after the first quarter. The Celtics have absolutely steamrolled them in the second, and they now head to the locker room with an 11-point lead at the break.
Marquis Daniels emerges as the unlikely hero for the Celtics in the first half, finishing with 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in just 10 minutes of play. Ray Allen adds nine points, while Kevin Garnett adds eight for Boston.
Joakim Noah leads the Bulls in the first half with nine points and three rebounds.
Second quarter, 2:19, Celtics 45-30: That might be the loudest ovation Marquis Daniels has gotten this year. Daniels checks out for Ray Allen, and here's his final stat line for the first half: 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal. He's shooting 4-for-4.
We've experienced over a year of Good Marquis and Bad Marquis. This might be the best Marquis we've ever seen.
Second quarter, 3:58, Celtics 41-26: The Celtics have opened the second quarter on a 22-3 run. Are you kidding me?
A couple of fast-break buckets pad the Celtics' lead, which has reached a whopping 15. Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis each get a layup in transition.
The Bulls look like they're not even trying out there.
Second quarter, 5:32, Celtics 35-25: Derrick Rose ends a 14-0 Boston run with a driving layup. Marquis Daniels comes right back with a layup of his own.
What a night for Daniels. He's now got 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting. Who needs Paul Pierce and his 20,000-plus points when you've got Quis?
Second quarter, 7:07, Celtics 29-23: We're nearly five minutes into the second quarter. Here's a key stat — the Bulls have zero points. Zero.
Scal, Kyle Korver and James Johnson have been complete black holes offensively. The Bulls seem to have no offense to speak of, save for isolating Derrick Rose and telling him to go nuts.
Against a good defensive team like the Celtics, that'll never work.
Rose has four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Not terrible, but not great, either.
Second quarter, 8:31, Celtics 29-23: Sore feet notwithstanding, Rajon Roindo checks back in here in the second quarter. Tom Thibodeau unsurprisingly sends Derrick Rose back out, matching Doc Rivers star point guard for star point guard.
The Bulls were really hurting for offense without Rose on the floor. Boston is now on a 10-0 run.
Second quarter, 10:08, 23-23: Yet another standing ovation for Brian Scalabrine, who enters the game for the first time, two minutes into the second quarter. No more acknowledgement from Scal this time — he's got a game to play.
Apparently Thibs still belongs to the Doc school of playing the second unit early in the second quarter. He's got four backups on the floor alongside Joakim Noah, while Rivers has all five reserves on the court.
The result is a slow-paced, low-scoring quarter so far.
End of first quarter, Bulls 23-19: It's been a frustrating first quarter for the Celtics offensively, as they can't seem to get anything going aside from Ray Allen's slashing. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have both been no-shows so far tonight.
Rajon Rondo's filling up the stat sheet — four points, two assists, two rebounds — but there's reason to be concerned about his health. The Celtics' point guard has complained about foot soreness this week, and Doc Rivers had Rondo sit out the last 4:37 of the quarter. Perhaps Rondo's feet are a bigger problem than we thought.
Joakim Noah has seven points, three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block for the Bulls, who now lead the C's by four.
First quarter, 3:00, Celtics 15-14: Kevin Garnett just plowed over a cameraman while diving for a loose ball. You've got to love the intensity, but it would have been nice if he'd actually deflected the ball inbounds to a teammate.
The Bulls have the ball, and Tom Thibodeau has called a timeout.
KG checks out in favor of Semih Erden.
The Bulls have yet to make a substitution. Wonder who comes off the bench first?
First quarter, 4:51, Celtics 15-10: Ray Allen now has nine points. The Bulls' entire team has 10.
Normally a spot-up shooter, Ray has shown an aggressive streak this time out, getting to the basket for fast-break points at will. The Bulls are making mistakes in their execution, and Ray has been quick to capitalize.
The C's now lead by five.
First quarter, 6:23, Celtics 11-10: Brian Scalabrine hasn't yet entered the game for Chicago, but no one at the Garden has forgotten he's here. On the Jumbotron during the first timeout is a long montage of highlights from Scal and coach Tom Thibodeau, which is met with a warm ovation from the Garden faithful.
Scal acknowledges the cheers in an emotional moment as the crowd applauds.
Thibodeau doesn't notice.
As for the basketball game at hand, the Bulls have ripped off an 8-4 lead to get back into the game. The C's have a one-point lead.
First quarter, 9:25, Celtics 7-2: Ray Allen has caught fire early. The C's guard is 3-for-3 from the floor for all seven of the Celtics' points — including a three-point play and a layup on a two-on-one fast break with Rajon Rondo.
The Bulls are starting Keith Bogans at shooting guard to pack a little extra help defensively. This is the kind of matchup where that should help. So far, it hasn't worked.
First quarter, 11:12, Celtics 2-0: The C's strike first. After corraling a defensive rebound off a Luol Deng miss, they get the ball to Ray Allen on the other end for a mid-range jumper. Swish. Boston's got the early lead.
8 p.m.: The most intriguing pregame story: There's been some disagreement over what the future holds for Brian Scalabrine after his playing days are over.
His former coach insists that coaching is the answer. Doc Rivers says that Scal was always asking questions about tactical decisions on the flight home after every game, and "those guys are always future coaches, you just know it."
Scal insists that coaching won't work. He loves his wife and kids too much, he says, and being a coach is too much of a grind. He wants no part of the 18-hour work days.
Scal has an alternate suggestion — after he hangs up the sneakers, he wants to replace Tommy Heinsohn as the Celtics' color commentator on TV. "I'd be good at that, wouldn't I?" he asked the media.
What do you think lies ahead for Scal? Sound off in the comments below.
7 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where there's a veritable media circus surrounding the Boston returns of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and forward Brian Scalabrine.
Stay tuned for updates on Homecoming Friday, as well as starting lineups and much more on this big Eastern Conference matchup. Tipoff is coming up at 8 p.m.
Find a nice, comfortable seat and settle in for the night. This should be a good one.
4 p.m.: If you're not already excited enough about the big return of Brian Scalabrine (although really, how could you not be?), then here's a nice little tidbit on Scal's comeback to get you in the mood.
Courtesy of the outstanding Nick Friedell at ESPN Chicago, a quote from Scal:
"As much as I would love to downplay it, I am actually pretty excited about going back to Boston to play there. If we could go out there and get a win, I'd be the happiest dude alive at the time."
Time for some mixed emotions, C's fans. It'll be nice to see Scal back on the TD Garden floor, but there's always the chance that the fiery redhead spoils the night by beating the C's and enacting sweet revenge.
Don't laugh. Anything's possible.
1:30 p.m.: The Celtics got a nice bit of good news today regarding their roster: Delonte West will no longer have to be active for the final five games of his 10-game suspension. The C's can move him to their inactive roster, per a new league ruling, giving them 12 eligible players against the Bulls.
This means that West, Kendrick Perkins and Avery Bradley are the three likely inactives going forward. All three Boston centers — Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Semih Erden — will likely be on the active roster even if they're not 100 percent healthy. You never know when Doc Rivers might need them.
8 a.m.: For three years, Tom Thibodeau was on the Celtics' bench alongside Doc Rivers, masterminding the elite defense that came to be Boston's calling card.
Now he's behind enemy lines.
Friday night will be Thibodeau's first game coaching against the Celtics team he once helped lead to a championship. Thibodeau and his Chicago Bulls will visit the TD Garden to take on Rivers' Celtics in what's sure to be a bittersweet meeting for both sides.
The Celtics are 4-1 and looking to extend their winning streak to four games. They've got a daunting opponent standing in their way in Thibodeau's Bulls.