Final, Bulls 100-99: Marco Belinelli could try 20 times and probably not make the falling, off-balance jumper he hit to win this game. But he hit it once when it counted, and the Celtics head onto the road with a rough overtime loss.
Rajon Rondo had 30 points and seven assists in the losing effort and Jared Sullinger had seven points and 15 boards. Both fouled out. Richard Hamilton scored 20 and Carlos Boozer came within one point of posting a 20-point, 20-rebound game for the Bulls.
The Celtics will be kicking themselves for their poor execution down the stretch in the fourth quarter, which should have kept this game from ever going to overtime.
Overtime, :12.5, Bulls 99-98: Hey now. The Jet must fly. Pierce got the ball isolated at the top of the key, but he surprised the Bulls by passing to Terry on the wing. After one dribble, Terry pulled up and canned the midrange jumper to give Boston the lead.
Overtime, :20.6, Bulls 98-97: Now things are interesting. Terry played exceptional defense on Belinelli, forcing a bad shot that Garnett corralled. It will be Celtics ball at half court after a timeout.
Overtime, :43.7, Bulls 98-97: So, Pierce earned a trip to the foul line and hit both. There is some thrilling free throw action going on here at the TD Garden.
Overtime, :50.1, Bulls 98-85: Marco Belinelli will not cooperate with the Celtics for some reason. The Bulls guard drew a foul on Sullinger, his sixth, and hit both free throws. What a jerk.
Overtime, :59.6, Bulls 96-95: Garnett gives the Celtics some life with a 20-footer, drawing a timeout from the Bulls’ bench. Thibodeau wants to be careful not to repeat Boston’s mistakes.
Overtime, 1:16, Bulls 96-93: Wow, where to start?
First off, Rondo is gone. He committed his sixth personal foul trying to rebound his own miss. But Rondo’s foul followed a flurry of action. The Celtics looked to be in good shape when Terry drained a corner three to give the Celtics the lead at 93-92, but Butler snuck behind Rondo for a catch-and-shoot layup and then hit two free throws after Rondo’s head collided with his groin.
This does not look good for the guys in white, and they have a horrible final minute of regulation to blame for it.
End of regulation, game tied 88-88: That was not a great example of how to close a game. With a two-point lead and Rondo inbounding, the point guard failed to recognize Terry in the backcourt. Passing to Terry would have not only put the ball in the hands of one of Boston’s best shooters, it would also have created an opportunity to bleed some clock.
Instead, Rondo passed it to Pierce, who was immediately trapped and forced into a jump ball with Noah. The Bulls center won and Hinrich took the ball upcourt unabated and hit a 10-foot jumper to tie.
Welcome to bonus basketball, kids.
Fourth quarter, :12.1, Celtics 88-86: The Bulls intentionally fouled, as expected, and Garnett finally had a 2-for-2 trip to the line. Rondo then fouled to keep Chicago from tying, and Hinrich helped out by splitting his free throws.
Fourth quarter, :22.5, Celtics 85-85: Boozer drove baseline and rubbed up against Pierce, who appeared to have position but was whistled for the foul anyway. After Boozer missed the first free throw, Garnett nabbed the ball and kissed it many times.
Boozer hit the second free throw, but the Celtics’ lead is still intact. Fouls upcoming for Chicago.
Fourth quarter, :36.6, Celtics 86-84: Has Rondo suddenly become a jump-shooter? His 15-footers have fallen with more regularity this season, but in this game his midrange game has been Chris Paul-esque.
Rondo stepped back from a Garnett screen for the go-ahead jumper, and the Celtics just might have a chance here.
Fourth quarter, 1:33, game tied 84-84: It is tough to ask any player to shoot better from the field. You know, because of the seven-foot guys trying to keep them from scoring. But if Garnett were not having such an off night from the free throw line, this game would look a little different.
Garnett is just 4-for-8 from the stripe, including 3-for-6 in this quarter. The Celtics cannot afford to give away any points, especially ones that are supposedly “free.”
Fourth quarter, 3:15, Bulls 83-81: Rivers held Pierce on the bench much longer than he normally would, partly because Pierce is having a rough night shooting but also because the rest of his teammates were doing a pretty decent job without him. Still, once he re-entered with less than six minutes left, Rondo and Garnett put together a string of free throws to continue a 6-0 run to give Boston its first lead of the game.
That lead was shortlived, though, as the Bulls came right back with a layup by Hamilton on a backdoor cut. Both teams will be heading to the free throw line for any foul from here on, so we could be here for a while.
Rondo has a season-high 28 points.
Fourth quarter, 6:53, game tied 74-74: It is talk-it-over time for the Bulls. They have led by double-digits in this game, but despite several stretches of complacency by the Celtics, the Bulls failed to put this one away.
Now, thanks to a running layup by Rondo and some more tough play by Jared Sullinger — who now leads Boston with 10 rebounds — it is a tie game.
Fourth quarter, 10:06, Bulls 70-68: With Rondo sitting down for a quick rest, the Celtics have decided to mount their run without him.
Although Robinson drilled a long jumper to open the final quarter, the Celtics responded with a jumper by Garnett, a layup by Terry and another jumper by Garnett (off a drive-and-dish by Terry) to make it a two-point game.
End of third quarter, Bulls 68-62: Rondo is wheeling and dealing on offense. This being a nationally televised game, that really should not be much of a surprise.
The Celtics’ point guard has 21 points on 9-for-14 heading into the fourth, although the Bulls have been able to rein in his playmaking abilities. Rondo has only five assists in 28 minutes of action.
Despite Rondo’s scoring, the Celtics’ defense has not played well enough to make it matter. The Bulls have hit nearly half of their shots and have 15 assists on their 27 field goals. The Celtics have 25 field goals, but do not yet have double-digit assists.
Third quarter, 2:42, Bulls 62-58: However they have done it, the Celtics have kept the Bulls from owning the paint even though Boozer has gone off. Boozer and Noah have been strong, but the Celtics have been able to keep most of that damage away from point-blank range.
Not so in the last few minutes, though. Noah easily slipped behind Bass for layups to pull Chicago within two of Boston in the points-in-the-paint category, 32-30. Both these teams like to win ugly, and this game seems headed for just that sort of conclusion.
Third quarter, 5:42, Bulls 56-54: A motivated backcourt of Rondo and Barbosa all but wiped out the Celtics’ deficit, and the good viewers on ESPN have a real game on their hands here in the second half.
By pushing the tempo even after made baskets, Rondo and Barbosa sparked a 15-11 push by Boston to begin the quarter. Rondo got to the bucket and got fouled, hitting both free throws, after hitting a pair of jumpers. Barbosa opened the frame with a running layup and missed his next two scoop shots, but he did nail a three from the corner to get the crowd to its feet.
Halftime, Bulls 45-39: If anybody can get a handle on this Celtics team, please let me know, because I’m flummoxed.
The Celtics only trail by six points at halftime, which is a minor triumph considering how disinterested they appeared at times in the first half. Rondo has 12 points and four assists, but those stats lose their luster when one considers he also has three turnovers. Pierce had yet another poor start shooting the ball, missing seven of his eight shots, and Garnett looked like a man trying to keep all of his fingers in the dike defensively.
Boozer has 13 points and nine rebounds, well on his way to another double-double, while Hamilton and Robinson have seven points apiece against inconsistent Boston defense.
Second quarter, 6:38, Bulls 34-27: Complacency has been an issue at times for the Celtics in the last few games. In stretches, just when they take a comfortable lead or pull back from a large deficit, they suddenly seem to hit the brakes.
That is how the last two or three minutes have gone. After Lee’s game-tying layup, Deng hit a tough contested three as the shot clock expired and Garnett responded with a reverse layup. Then the Celtics went silent on both ends, giving up three straight Bulls baskets and a free throw by Boozer, with only two foul shots by Terry breaking up the run.
Second quarter, 9:57, game tied 23-23: Lee is probably due for some increased playing time since Bradley is not available. In the early going, he is capitalizing.
Lee hit the aforementioned three to pull the Celtics within two points near the end of the first quarter. He kept it up by scoring the first four points of the second quarter to knot up the score.
Lee’s baskets came on a baseline jumper off a screen and a drive in secondary transition. As with most of Lee’s offense, they came off him moving with and without the ball and not trying to do too much.
End of first quarter, Bulls 23-19: Nate Robinson became a popular player in his short time here, and the TD Garden crowd gave him a polite reception when he entered the game. Robinson has been key in solidifying Chicago’s backcourt during Rose’s absence. Robinson did not really do anything in the first quarter — he played only 53 seconds — but something tells us he will not be cheated when it comes to getting up his shots in this game.
First quarter, 2:04, Bulls 19-17: Barbosa started to presumably spark the offense, but as is usually the case, a more defensive approach yielded more scoring. Once Courtney Lee replaced Barbosa, the Celtics’ perimeter defense improved. As a result, Boston’s bigs did not need to help as often, so their defense improved, too.
Thanks to the Bulls turnovers and bad shots, the Celtics put together a 9-2 run to pull back into contention after falling behind by 10 points. Lee capped the run with a 3-pointer from the right corner as Chicago raced back in transition.
First quarter, 9:00, Bulls 9-4: The Celtics wanted to turn things around after Wednesday’s loss, when they got off to a hot start against the Hornets but fizzled as the game went on. So far, they have been successful at switching things up against the Bulls.
Instead, they have started slowly. So there’s that.
Aside from a jump shot by Rondo, the Celtics came out cold on offense and gave little resistance on defense — or more accurately on the defensive glass. Carlos Boozer had two buckets off putbacks to help Chicago take the quick lead.
7:02 p.m.: Leandro Barbosa, fresh off his denial on Thursday that he was seeking a trade, will get the start at shooting guard.
6:15 p.m.: It certainly sounds like Avery Bradley, who took a shot in the ribs in Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets, will not play against the Bulls. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was not giving anything away less than an hour before tip-off, though.
Rivers would not confirm or deny if Bradley is out, and would only say a variety of players could start in Bradley’s place if necessary. For those keeping score at home, that would make two impact guards missing this game: Rose for the Bulls and Bradley for the Celtics.
Assuming Bradley does not play, the projected starters appear below.
Jason Terry/Avery Bradley
8 a.m. ET: Not having Derrick Rose has not turned out to be much of a problem for the Chicago Bulls. Then again, that should not be much of a surprise, given their leadership.
Former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau is the head man in Chicago, of course, and under his direction the Bulls have not let the absence of the former NBA Most Valuable Player hold them back. The Bulls (22-15) are in second place in the Central Division and have won six of their last eight games despite Rose having yet to suit up. Their success is built on one of the league’s best defenses and heavy minutes from Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Even Carlos Boozer has rediscovered his double-double form of late.
Meanwhile, Thibodeau’s former team just wants to get back on the winning track. The Celtics (20-18) let their guards down against the Hornets on Wednesday, leading to the end of their six-game win streak. With a strong effort against the Bulls, the Celtics can make that loss a forgotten blip in an otherwise successful month thus far.
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. ET.
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