THE NITTY GRITTY
Joakim Noah filled up his stat line yet again, registering 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks over 39 minutes as the Bulls motored away in the fourth quarter. Mike Dunleavy scored a team-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Jimmy Butler added 18 on 8-of-13 shooting. Jerryd Bayless, pinch-hitting for the resting Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Bass each scored a team-high 18 points for the Celtics. Bass added 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists over 31:27. Phil Pressey (9 points, 4 steals, 3 assists) and Kelly Olynyk (seven points, seven rebounds) gave Boston a first-half jolt off the bench.
With it a one-point game after three quarters, the Bulls opened the final frame on a 13-0 run over the first 3:44 to tear the game open. Noah had six points during the outburst, as well as a block that led to a Dunleavy 3-pointer in transition. The Celtics' second unit, which carried the team at times in the first half, missed its first six shots in the quarter and Boston was staring at an 84-70 deficit with 8:16 to play. Chicago's lead went as high as 16.
Avery Bradley sat out the second half due to soreness in his right ankle (the same one that forced him to miss 19 games recently). Chris Johnson started the second half in his place. ... The Celtics turned the ball over 18 times despite not giving it away at all in the first quarter. ... Joel Anthony was a healthy DNP. ... Rondo was active, but did not play on the second night of a back-to-back. He spent the first half as color commentator for the Boston TV broadcast.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-51) have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11. Not that anyone was holding out hope, but Boston's loss, combined with Atlanta's victory over Philadelphia, formally eliminated the Celtics from playoff contention. The Celtics will temporarily tie Utah for the fourth-worst record in basketball (pending how the Jazz fare versus the Knicks). Boston will take Tuesday off before visiting the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.