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Celtics' chances for division title now remote

4/9/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- After a big victory Sunday over the Eastern
Conference-leading Nets, the Boston Celtics had a letdown against
the team with the league's worst record.

Trenton Hassell banked in a key 3-pointer and Travis Best
converted a pair of free throws, all in the final minute, leading
Chicago to a 105-100 victory Monday night, snapping the Bulls'
nine-game losing streak.

Antoine Walker, who finished with 33 points, missed an
off-balance 3-pointer with three seconds left. Best made two free
throws with less than one second remaining to clinch the victory
for the Bulls.

"We're still very confident going into the playoffs, especially
if we can lock down that No. 3 spot," said Walker, who scored 30
of his 33 points in the first three quarters.

A night after beating New Jersey to keep their faint Atlantic
Division title hopes alive, the Celtics allowed the Bulls (18-59)
to shoot 55 percent from the field.

"A disappointing loss. But what do you expect when you let a
team shoot such a high percentage?" said Paul Pierce. "There were
a lot of mismatches and they really scrapped. We tend to slip in
our focus against the sub-.500 teams."

The Celtics (45-33) can still win the division if they win their
four remaining games and New Jersey (49-28) loses its last five.
The Nets were idle Monday.

Marcus Fizer led Chicago with 21 points. Hassell scored 18
points on 7-for-8 shooting, and Jamal Crawford scored 17 points in
his first start of the season.

Pierce had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who had
their four-game winning streak halted.

Boston trailed by five points with 3:20 remaining before Walker
made a 3-pointer and Erick Strickland added a pair of free throws
to tie the score at 98 with 1:46 left.

Hassell's 3 with 46 seconds left gave the Bulls the lead.

"I banked in two 3s today," Hassell said. "It's not how you
plan to make them. It's just making them."

Pierce missed a jumper with 31 seconds left, and on the Celtics'
last possession, Walker could not get a clear look against Jalen
Rose.

Boston led by five in the second quarter before Chicago used a 17-3 run
to take a 44-35 lead late in the quarter.

Rose scored just four points on 1-for-8 shooting in the first
half, but the Bulls still led 48-43. Walker scored 15 first-half
points for the Celtics, who shot 35 percent in the first two
quarters.

Pierce made a pair of 3-pointers to help Boston push its lead to
five points midway through the third quarter.

Crawford scored 10 points in the third period for Boston, which
shot 58 percent in the quarter en route to a 75-74 lead.

Game notes
The Bulls' starting five averaged 22.4 years of age, the
Celtics' 27. ... Bulls forward Eddie Robinson (strained groin) has missed
the last three games. He has missed 48 games this season because of
injuries. ... Chicago forward Charles Oakley did not play because of a
sore back. ... Celtics guard Tony Delk did not play because of a sore
left abductor muscle. ... Cubs right-hander and Massachusetts
native Jason Bere was at the United Center. ... Walker made an
improbable three-point play in the third. After making a steal,
Walker went for a layup and was wrapped up by Crawford. He managed
to throw the ball with two hands over his head, off the glass and
in. ... Walker shot 13-for-28 from the field, including 5-for-12
from 3-point range. ... Boston made 13 of its 31 3-pointers.