This was a tired Bulls team after their 118 – 115 victory over the 76ers last night in Philly, as every starter played over 31 minutes. A rested player would have been a nice reinforcement for the Bulls but Derrick Rose sat for the 2nd straight game with two sprained ankles. The Celtics also had there star point guard sitting, as Rajon Rondo didn’t suit up due to his hand injury.
The Bulls got blitzed in the first 4 minutes on the 2nd night of a back-back by the Boston Celtics, as the Celtics took a quick 10 – 2 lead before a Tom Thibodeau timeout. The Bulls were able to rally as they took a 25 – 20 lead after the 1st quarter. Mike Dunleavy continued his hot shooting as he went 3 for 5 from beyond the arch and led all scorers with 9 points.
Then the wheels came off.
The Bulls only managed 16 points in the 2nd quarter as the entire team went cold. Shooting 33% and turning the ball over 4 times, the Bulls showed no life on both ends of the court.
In turn, the Celtics found their groove as they shot 56% from the field and out rebounded the Bulls 14 – 7. Emotions were running high as the usually calm Pau Gasol emphatically screamed the F-word due to a no call by the refs but the refs let it slide.
Exploding for 36 points in the second quarter, the Celtics took a commanding 56 – 41 lead into halftime.
The 3rd quarter the Bulls were able to keep pace with the red hot Celtics who shot 60% from the field which kept the Bulls from making any kind of run. Still down by double digits, Thibs kept his starters in with Butler and Gasol playing the whole quarter and Dunleavy playing just under 10 minutes. Emotions got the best of Aaron Brooks, as he was called for a technical at the end of the 3rd quarter because he thought he was fouled going to the hoop as time expired.
Entering the 4th quarter, the Bulls had two options being down 16… Fold up and call it a night or continue playing like it was game 7 of the conference final.
If you know anything about the Bulls, you know that coach Thibs chose the latter.
Brooks led the 4th quarter charge, scoring 19 points and pulling the Bulls within 2 points with only 22 seconds left. The Celtics converted their free throw attempts to seal the deal which left the United Center faithful irritable as they filed out of the building.
It was a valiant effort by a tired team but the Bulls did not have enough in the tank to complete the improbable comeback.
All eyes will now turn to Rose and the status of his ankles.
The Bulls get a day off as they await the arrival of the 2 – 3 Pistons, who are led by Greg Monroe and Josh Smith on Monday.
Tom Thibodeau, Aaron Brooks and Taj Gibson talk about the Celtics vs Bulls game