Rapid Reaction: Bulls 89, Celtics 80
How it happened: Playing without Derrick Rose (back) and Rip Hamilton (groin/thigh) the Bulls got big contributions from the their three best players on the floor. Carlos Boozer had one of his best games as a Bull, scoring 23 points, pulling down 15 rebounds and dishing out five assists. Luol Deng chipped in with 23 points, 10 assists and four rebounds, while Joakim Noah added 15 points and 16 rebounds. If the Bulls were going to pick up a win without Rose, those were the three guys who had to step up against a defensive-minded Boston bunch. And they did.
What it means: Despite what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says, there really is no reason for Rose to rush back on the floor before the All-Star break. The Bulls have more than enough to win without him. This game only affirmed that point.
Boozer and Noah played well together and dominated the glass. Deng, who played 45 minutes, helped set up the offense, played solid defense on Paul Pierce and kept things moving on both ends throughout the night. Mike James, who was playing in the D-League just a few days ago, played well off the bench, scoring eight points and frustrating Rajon Rondo down the stretch.
Thibodeau would be well served to sit Rose down until after the break unless he is feeling much better, especially considering the Bulls have only one game in the next week against a team with a winning record (Atlanta Hawks on Monday). The Bulls have one of the deepest teams in the league and they proved it again on Thursday night.
Stats of the night: The Bulls had seven points in the final 9:14 of the third quarter -- and still won.
What's next: The Bulls will be back on the practice floor Friday morning before facing off against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday afternoon.