The Boston Celtics were bound for a hiccup, and they experienced one and then some Monday night.
On a night with Kyrie Irving (quad contusion) inactive, the Celtics offense seemingly was nonexistent, as Boston fell to the lowly Chicago Bulls 108-85 at United Center.
While the C’s offense struggled, their defense was equally lackluster. Nikola Mirotic paced the Bulls with 24 points, while Bobby Portis wasn’t far behind with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting,
Boston had five players score in double figures on the night, led by Al Horford’s 15 points, but the C’s faced a double-digit deficit for the bulk of the contest.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 23-6, while the Bulls improve to 6-20.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
SMART STEPS UP
Smart relished the opportunity of getting the starting nod at point guard, scoring nine points in the first quarter to help the Celtics take a 29-28 lead into the second frame. Smart connected on three of his five shot attempts, all of which came from beyond the arc. Boston shot a respectable 52 percent in the opening frame, but the Bulls were nearly as strong, posting a 46 percent mark. Mirotic led all scorers with 13 first-quarter points.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS
The Celtics’ offense entirely lacked rhythm in the second quarter, and the Bulls made them pay. Chicago went on a remarkable 24-2 run during the frame, which allowed it to take a 56-42 lead into the break. The C’s only scored 13 points in the second, which marked their lowest offensive output of any quarter this season.
Smart broke the Bulls’ run with a bucket at the 3:58 mark. He was the only Celtic to score in double figures in the first half with 11 points, while Mirotic (16), Portis (15) and David Nwaba (10) all eclipsed the threshold for Chicago. Boston also wasn’t very careful with the basketball early on, as it committed 10 first-half turnovers compared to the Bulls’ two.
FOOT ON THE GAS
The Bulls didn’t let up after dominating the Celtics in the second quarter, as a strong third frame allowed for a 78-63 Chicago lead heading into the fourth. After being held scoreless in the first half, Robin Lopez came up big with seven third-quarter points, while Justin Holiday wasn’t far behind with six. Brown was strong in the third with seven points, but the Celtics collectively shot an underwhelming 42 percent from the field. Boston tried to use the 3-pointer to get back in the game, but it only converted on two of seven attempts from beyond the arc.
The Celtics never really threatened to make a comeback, as they only managed to trim the deficit to as low as 12 in the fourth quarter. Boston’s shooting woes continued throughout the frame, and head coach Brad Stevens decided to pull his starters with roughly five minutes left in the fourth with the game seemingly out of hand. It was a brutal loss for the C’s, but it was the type of ugly defeat that typically serves as a wake-up call for a team.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Smart throws it up, Horford puts it down.
The Celtics return to action Wednesday when they host the Denver Nuggets. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
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