After going down to the wire against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, the Boston Celtics looked utterly lifeless at times Saturday against the lowly Chicago Bulls, falling 126-116.
Despite a hot start in the first quarter, the Celtics were completely outplayed for long stretches, and dug themselves a massive hole they could not erase in the fourth quarter.
Zach LaVine was monstrous for the Bulls, dousing the Celtics for 42 points. Lauri Markkanen also was nearly unstoppable, finishing with 35. Kyrie Irving led the chase in the second half, and topped the Celtics with 37 points. Al Horford had 19.
With the loss, the Celtics fell to 37-23, while the Bulls climbed to 16-44 with the win.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
CELTICS START HOT
Boston shot 60 percent from the field in taking a 33-28 lead after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics took a 7-0 lead right out of the gate, which caused Chicago to take a timeout just 1:17 into the game. Chicago gained consciousness after the timeout, but the Celtics were able to separate again with another 7-0 run to make it 22-15 with 5:23 to play in the first.
Boston was able to stay an arm’s length from the Bulls thanks to Horford and Tatum, who were a combined 9-for-10 from the floor in the quarter.
But LaVine kept the Bulls on the Celtics’ heels, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter, and kept it a two-possession game in the last minutes of the first.
BULLS ON PARADE
Chicago’s bench gave the Bulls a massive push in the second, which led to the hosts taking a 64-51 lead into halftime. Chicago outscored Boston 36-18 in the second.
The Bulls took their first lead of the game with a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 3-pointer 1:32 in the second. Ryan Arcidiacono hit another trey to push the hosts’ run against Boston’s bench to 10-0 and gave Chicago a 38-33 lead.
Treys from LaVine and Arcidiacono brought the Bulls’ lead to 58-43 with 3:55 to play in the half.
The Celtics were unable to chip away at the deficit in the late stages of the half, with LaVine (19 first half points) and Markkanen (15 first half points) continuing to drive the Bulls’ bus.
C’s CLOSE MASSIVE GAP
LaVine picked up where he left off in the first half, setting the world on fire in the third quarter as the Bulls led by as much as 25, and took a 94-81 lead into the fourth.
The third quarter started exactly how the first ended for the Celtics, with the Bulls taken advantage of an utterly flat C’s squad and pushing the advantage to 20 points with a triple from LaVine to make it 75-55 with 9:24 to play in the third. LaVine continue to hit shots at will, hitting another trey to make it 82-60 with 8:05 left in the third.
Jaylen Brown gave the C’s a spark, with back-to-back transition buckets, then hitting a three to make it 91-76 with 2:38 to go in the third. Boston continued its surge back with Gordon Hayward adding a trey to close the gap to 13 heading into the fourth quarter.
BULLS RIDE IT OUT
Despite an early push, the Celtics did not have enough to come all the way back.
Irving closed the gap to single digits with a trey, but Markkanen answered back to make it 97-86 with 10:01 to play. He followed that up with an and-1 to make it 100-86. And LaVine continued to torch the C’s, hitting the 40-point mark with a stepback jumper to make it 109-93 with 5:47 to play.
Markkanen’s three with 3:23 made it 116-102.
Irving got the Celtics back within nine at the charity stripe with 1:12 to play, but that is as close the Celtics would come in the closing moments.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics will conclude their three-game road trip with a tilt against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Tip off from Scotiabank Arena is slated for 8 p.m.