After losing two straight close games where they failed to execute in the final minutes, the Celtics avoided that fate with a late 8-0 run that put them in control and gave them a 110-101 win over the Bulls.
Isaiah Thomas led with 22 points and Avery Bradley added 21. Jared Sullinger had 18 points with 12 rebounds. For Chicago, Jimmy Butler (who was supposedly sick today) shot 10/20 for 28 points and had 14 boards, while Derrick Rose scored 27.
The Celts had a Jekyll and Hyde performance before and after the half. They scored 34 points in the first quarter on 14/27 shooting, despite missing more than a half dozen shots at the rim. As he tends to do, Bradley started out hot with 11 points on 4/6 shooting, making his lone three-point attempt. Meanwhile, the Bulls were just 7/22 for 23 points, led by Rose with eight.
In the second quarter, the Bulls hit the offensive boards hard to close within three points of the Cs. That’s when Boston turned it around, outscoring Chicago 19-7 over the final 5:11 of the half. Bradley kicked it off with a three, Sullinger hit back-to-back jumpers, then IT drained a triple. Mix in some steals and layups and the Celts had a 15-point lead at halftime. Bradley had 14 (plus three steals), Thomas 11 and Kelly Olynyk 10. The Bulls were kept afloat by Pau Gasol’s 12 points and Butler’s 11, but Chicago shot just 40.9% and committed 13 turnovers for 17 Boston points.
Coming out of the break, Tommy Heinsohn said, “I hope this team didn’t forget how they played the first half. Win the third quarter.” They remembered for a while, getting the lead as high as 16. Unfortunately, the Bulls went small and started attacking the hoop with great results. Chicago had 22 points in the paint during the third, on 11/16 shooting. Rose looked like an MVP again as he scored 16 in the period, shooting 6/9. He made a last-second three that brought the Bulls within eight going to the fourth quarter.
Boston went ice cold in the final period, missing an estimated gazillion shots in a row as their lead dropped to one point with five minutes left. Finally, they attacked the rim and got a layup from IT, another by Sully and yet another by Thomas. After a Bulls timeout, Bradley canned a jumper. The eight-point run boosted the lead back to 105-96 with 1:57 remaining.
After a Gasol putback broke the run, IT and Sully combined on a gorgeous pick-and-roll, wraparound pass from the little guy to the big guy. That was too much for Chicago.
- Celtics never trailed in the 48 minutes.
- Boston scored a season-high 64 points before halftime.
- After allowing 33 points in the third quarter, the Celts held the Bulls to 19 in the fourth.
- Boston scored 26 points off 20 Chicago turnovers. Celts had 14 steals (Bradley four, Sully and Jae Crowder three apiece).
- Gasol: -26.
- Thomas was 5/8 from the line, just the second time this year he missed more than 2 FTs in game.
- Amir Johnson missed the game for personal reasons. Olynyk started in his place, meaning Tyler Zeller played off the bench. Zeller looked rusty and struggled much of the night (although he did shoot 3/6).
- Marcus Smart: 0/5 from the arc.
Run, baby, run
It’s all about hustle: pic.twitter.com/89kUBFIKYr
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 23, 2016
- FG%: Bulls 42.7 (38/89), Celtics 44.8 (43/96)
- Points in the Paint: Bulls 54 (27/53), Celtics 44 (22/46)
- 2nd Chance Points: Bulls 25 (10/15), Celtics 15 (6/12)
- Fast Break Points: Bulls 6 (3/7), Celtics 17 (6/11)