Boston Celtics: 2012Game10

Rapid Reaction: Bulls 88, Celtics 79

January, 13, 2012
Elsa/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and the Celtics are still searching for a quality win.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Chicago Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 88-79 Friday night at TD Garden:

Reigning MVP Derrick Rose scored a game-high 25 points, including some pivotal points when the Celtics made a furious rally in the fourth quarter, adding seven assists and four rebounds over 39 minutes. Luol Deng did the bulk of the damage early on, scoring 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting and adding a whopping 16 rebounds over 42 minutes. Ray Allen scored a team-high 16 points for the Celtics, while Rajon Rondo chipped in 14 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds while again providing the only early spark.

Exactly one week after matching a franchise record by scoring just 25 first-half points in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics dug themselves a mighty big hole with a lackluster effort before intermission against the Bulls. The Celtics connected on a mere 13 of 39 shots (33 percent) and trailed 52-33 after two frames. That included a cringe-worthy 13-point first quarter. Boston went a whopping 8 minutes without a field goal, allowing Chicago to stretch an 18-11 lead with 3:59 to go in the first quarter into a 17-point cushion before Allen's driving layup snapped the hoop-less streak with 7:31 to play in the second.

The Celtics played more inspired ball in the second half, trimming a 20-point deficit midway through the third quarter down to a single point with 10 minutes to play in the game. Boston even had a chance to pull ahead, but Paul Pierce missed a jumper. Rose didn't give them another chance. He drove strong to the basket on consecutive pick and rolls, generating four points (a layup and two free throws) to quickly push the lead to five (71-66). After a Kevin Garnett make, Rose busted a brief zone look with a 3-pointer for a 74-68 lead that kept Boston at bay.

Chris Wilcox turned in a solid effort -- alas, it was only three minutes of work, though he chipped in two buckets (two dunks, one off an offensive rebound), finishing with four points. … Doc Rivers shortened his rotation a bit, employing only four bench bodies when it mattered (one of whom was Jermaine O'Neal off the pine after Brandon Bass jumped into the starting lineup). Only O'Neal and Mickael Pietrus (6 points, 14 minutes) logged quality time for the reserves. … One positive: The Celtics corralled seven offensive rebounds. Alas, the Bulls grabbed 11 of 24 second-chance points. … The Garden crowd (or what was left of it) erupted when Brian Scalabrine checked in for trash time. They popped again when he tried to save an offensive rebound near the end line. … E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Greg Stiemsma,and Marquis Daniels played the final moments.

Well, the rally was fun, right? The Celtics made a valiant charge, but the late-game execution continues to be troublesome (as are the slow starts that create holes too deep to climb out of). Boston is still searching for its first win against a playoff-caliber opponent, allowing the Bulls to win in Boston for only the second time in nine tries. Pierce continues to struggle from the floor (3-of-12, 13 points, minus-16 plus/minus),and despite an offensive flurry that aided the rally, Garnett was the only starter outside of double figures (8 points, 7 rebounds over 33 minutes). It doesn't get easier with a back-to-back in Indiana on Saturday night and a visit from the Oklahoma City Thunder (and old friend Kendrick Perkins) on Monday.

3-on-3: Celtics vs. Bulls (Game 10 of 66)

January, 13, 2012
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty ImagesRondo vs. Rose -- Rivalries renewed as Celtics meet Bulls Friday night.
After dipping below .500 with Wednesday's loss to the Mavericks, the Boston Celtics (4-5, 3-2 home) face the daunting task of trying to get back on track against the Chicago Bulls (10-2, 6-2 away) Friday night at TD Garden (8 p.m., ESPN). We got 3-on-3 with our good friends Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago and Greg Payne of ESPN Boston to preview this East showdown:

1. Fact or fiction: KG and Noah will get into a dust-up on Friday.

Payne: Fiction. KG's many dust-ups have always been somewhat tolerable because of his play on the court. He's played well, so he's earned the right to mix it up with opposing players and run his mouth a bit. But the last thing anyone should do is talk smack when they aren't playing well, and if Noah out-rebounds Garnett by a wide margin tomorrow, Garnett will not have earned the right to say much of anything.

Friedell: Fiction. Last season this would have been more likely, but Noah is struggling to stay on the floor late in games at the moment. Boston's old friend Tom Thibodeau has benched Noah and Carlos Boozer four times in the fourth quarter early this season. Noah is not playing with the same confidence he had last year. I think the Bulls are hoping that Garnett's presence will bring it out of him on Friday, but I don't think they'll be getting in a brawl.

Forsberg: Fact. Two guys in need of a spark, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they bring a little emotion out of each other (which isn't necessarily a bad thing for either side). I'm not suggesting there needs to be fists flying, but a good old-fashioned double technical and some healthy jawing never hurt anybody (except Kendrick Perkins and his season tech total in 2010). Let's see if Noah calls Garnett "dirty" or "ugly" or "mean," and whether Garnett acknowledges a "nobody."

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Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9