That is one extremely Big Ticket. He finishes with 20 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Not to be outdone, Rajon Rondo puts up a near-triple-double of his own — 12 points, 19 assists, six rebounds and three steals for him. An eye-popping night for the two Celtics stars.
Derrick Rose drops 20 for the Bulls, but it's nowhere near enough. The C's cruise to victory.
They've got Saturday off before taking on the New Jersey Nets on Sunday afternoon.
Fourth quarter, 2:07, Celtics 100-84: Pierce now has three straight buckets, all assisted by Rondo.
Pierce now has 16 points on 8-of-16 shooting; Rondo's got 19 assists.
The Celtics are on the verge of their sixth straight win.
Fourth quarter, 3:20, Celtics 98-84: Beautiful mid-range jumper from Paul Pierce, pushing the Celtics' lead back to 14. If this game's not over, it's at least close.
Fourth quarter, 4:44, Celtics 94-80: Derrick Rose doesn't want to go away. He gets a driving layup here to put the Bulls back within 14 — it's not that close, but it's a start.
Give the Bulls credit for continuing to fight. It's not easy to battle back when the Celitcs are in a groove like this.
KG is sitting out now — hard-earned rest after a hard-fought game. He might finish the night with the 20-17 stat line.
He's had worse.
Fourth quarter, 6:50, Celtics 92-74: Kevin Garnett now has 20 points and 17 assists.
This is vintage KG. And perfectly timed, too — the Celtics needed a big night out of him in this matchup, and they got it.
Fourth quarter, 9:28, Celtics 84-70: The Celtics are running low on big men — Shaq and Big Baby now have five fouls each.
Doc Rivers will need a big fourth quarter out of Kevin Garnett and Semih Erden. His hands are otherwise tied.
Doc was hoping to give an extended run to the "Ray Allen plus four bench guys" unit, but Baby's fifth foul derails that plan.
If the C's get a solid nine minutes out of KG, though, they've got this game in the bag.
End of third quarter, Celtics 82-67: Semih Erden just put the cherry on top of a stellar third quarter, throwing down a one-handed dunk in the final seconds.
The Celtics have pushed their lead to 15. We're nearing garbage time here. This TD Garden crowd doesn't know whether to chant for "defense" or "Scalabrine."
Third quarter, 1:48, Celtics 78-62: Kevin Garnett just got his 15th rebound. Are you kidding me?
KG's got 18 points and 15 boards, with a shot at his first 20-20 game since his Celtics debut back in 2007. He's amazing to watch with two healthy knees.
Rough week on the glass for Joakim Noah. Dwight Howard outrebounded him 12-0; KG's got him 15-7 at the moment. Those two matchups would be rough for anyone.
Third quarter, 4:54, Celtics 72-57: Rajon Rondo just took a hard hit from Derrick Rose, tweaking his left knee as he fell.
He's going to stay in the game. He's either a trooper or a drama queen, because that looked really ugly.
As long as Rondo can walk, he'll still want to play. He's a competitor like that.
Third quarter, 6:37, Celtics 68-54: Rondo lobs an entry pass to KG, and KG flushes it down. The Celtics now have their largest lead of the game at 14, and Tom Thibodeau has a headache.
KG now has 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Rondo has quietly snuck up on the Bulls with 10 points and 11 assists. Their two-man game is putting the Bulls to shame.
Third quarter, 8:49, Celtics 60-53: Nice heads-up play there by Rondo, recovering a loose rebound off a Pierce miss and tipping it in.
Rondo's so quick and his instincts are so good, that when he gets an offensive rebound it's usually an automatic two points. No exception here — Rondo gets the job done.
He's now got six points after a slow start initially.
Third quarter, 9:43, Celtics 55-52: Rajon Rondo has been a man on a mission so far in this third quarter. He was in a funk offensive in the first half, but he's taking every shot now.
Something about facing off with Derrick Rose brings out the aggressive scorer in Rondo. It's not a role he generally plays, but he's certainly capable when the situation warrants.
Halftime, Celtics 53-48: The Celtics get a big first half from their Big Three. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combine for 34 points in the first half, giving the C's a solid five-point lead over the Bulls at halftime.
16 for KG, 12 for Ray, and six for Pierce. The Celtics shoot 54.1 percent in the half, and KG's 11 boards help them kill the Bulls in the rebounding battle. It's a good half all around for the C's, who look to beat the Bulls for the second time this season.
Derrick Rose has 11 points for the Bulls, Carlos Boozer nine and the now-infamous Joakim Noah eight.
Second quarter, 2:44, Celtics 45-43: Kevin Garnett is filling up the stat sheet in every way imaginable. He's got 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block early.
KG gets fired up to take on Joakim Noah, and it makes him play better. Intensity is always good against an energetic Bulls team like this. The C's might be old, but they're matching the Bulls step for step.
Second quarter, 5:58, 36-36: Forget about Rose and Rondo. Shaq and Joakim Noah are the story of the night.
Dueling dunkers have a way of captivating a crowd, don't they?
Shaq has nine points so far, and Noah eight.
Second quarter, 7:45, Celtics 34-33: It's on. First Shaquille O'Neal shakes the backboard with an emphatic dunk on one end; then Joakim Noah comes right back and throws down one of his own.
The Garden showers Noah with boos as he flushes it down. These two teams are going at each other's throats, and the crowd is really into it.
Second quarter, 9:40, Celtics 32-26: The Bulls open the second quarter on a 7-1 run. Doc is trying out a second unit of Paul Pierce plus the four reserves, and it hasn't been working.
Taj Gibson is eating the Celtics alive. This happened last month, too. He's a good athlete that can give the smaller Glen Davis fits.
End of first quarter, Celtics 31-19: The Celtics have themselves a double-digit lead. But can they hold it?
They've leaned on their two starting guards to play a lot of minutes already so far, with Ray Allen playing all 12 and Rajon Rondo staying in until the final minute. Going forward, the key will be getting the second unit to sustain the lead, keeping the starters' legs fresh.
The C's have taken a lot of double-digit leads this season, but they've let a lot of them slip away. The Bulls are a high-energy team, and the Celtics will have to work hard to stand their ground.
First quarter, 3:02, Celtics 26-12: Uh oh. Ray Allen's feeling it. Everyone else, just get out of the way.
Ray has started the game 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. He's got 10 points already. If he gets one more bucket, he's tied the Bulls singlehandedly.
The Celtics are on a 10-0 run, with their veteran Big Three carrying all of the scoring load. Rajon Rondo, meanwhile, has quietly stacked up four assists.
First quarter, 4:45, Celtics 18-12: The bad blood's still flowing. Derrick Rose tries to get to the basket, and Shaq pummels him.
Doc Rivers will be the first to tell you that rivalries just aren't what they used to be in the NBA. The players are too buddy-buddy, and there's not enough hatred in the league these days.
But when these two teams square off, the tension is thick. You can feel it.
First quarter, 6:24, Celtics 14-8: The boos are audible for Joakim Noah as he scores his first two points of the night, getting past Shaquille O'Neal for a dunk.
This Noah-KG rivalry is very real. They don't like each other one bit, and they're getting the fans into it, too.
Noah's going to hear it all night long at the Garden.
First quarter, 8:40, Celtics 6-2: Both point guards are attacking early. Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are going right at each other in the opening minutes, looking for chances to score inside. Each has scored once so far, with Rose notching the Bulls' only two points.
For my money, this is the best point guard rivalry in the NBA. Eat your hearts out, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
First quarter, 11:04, Celtics 4-0: Carlos Boozer gets a rude awakening in his second game as a Bull. Kevin Garnett shows him up on the first play of the game, fading away and lofting a jumper up and in over his outstretched arms; then on the second possession, he scores again.
The C's grab an early four-point lead.
7:55 p.m.: A big storyline for the Bulls in this game: Can Joakim Noah bounce back from a stinkbomb of a performance against the Magic on Wednesday night?
In case you missed it, Noah was awful in the Bulls' 107-78 home loss. He actually led the team with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, but he got outrebounded by Dwight Howard 12-0, and led a Bulls team that grabbed a franchise-low 21 boards on the night.
He'll need to be better than that against the Celtics. Much better. And he'll also have to find a way to work together on the block with Carlos Boozer, whose adjustment to life as a Bull hasn't gone smoothly.
6:30 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Brian Scalabrine is the first Bull out on the floor, getting up shots in preparation for Friday night's showdown.
Scal made his comeback to Boston a month ago — back then, he was playing more minutes, with Carlos Boozer injured and Taj Gibson just starting to come into his own. Scal's not likely to play a big role this time, but he's still out there working.
Scal and the Bulls will tip things off at 8 p.m. against the Celtics. Stay tuned.
8 a.m.: The Chicago Bulls had big plans for this summer, and when all the dust had settled, they hadn't gotten LeBron James. They hadn't gotten Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh, or Amare Stoudemire, either.
They got Carlos Boozer, and they sunk $75 million into making him a cornerstone piece of their franchise. And so far, that experiment hasn't gone well.
Boozer missed the first month of the season with a hand injury, and his return Wednesday night against the Magic was a disaster. He played only 22 minutes, attempted just five shots, and finished with a microscopic stat line of five points, two rebounds and one assist. Boozer and Joakim Noah got killed on the glass by Dwight Howard.
Boozer and the Bulls have a lot to prove when they enter the TD Garden on Friday night to take on the Celtics. They're still trying to show the world they can win with their $75 million man — Friday's another chance.
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