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Kevin Garnett poked the ball away from behind Joakim Noah as he dribbled up the court with just a few seconds left in overtime to seal the win for Boston in a 110-105 final against the Chicago Bulls. Another overtime game (the second in as many games for the Celtics) for these two teams who aren’t strangers to playing against each other past regulation. The Celtics and Bulls faced each other off four times in overtime two seasons ago in a great first round of the NBA playoffs, with two of those four times resulting in double and triple overtime.
Ray Allen was the star of the game with 25 points, with the last two coming off an emphatic dunk assisted by Paul Pierce in the final minute of overtime. Kevin Garnett had a double-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and also added in three steals defensively. It was another great night for Rajon Rondo with a double-double of 10 points and 11 assists. Rondo was a game-time decision according coach Doc Rivers, as he is dealing with a sore foot.
Paul Pierce, who was coming off his last game that saw him score his 20,000th career point, was virtually absent in this game until overtime. Pierce only managed 10 points and 7 rebounds, and was 4-14 shooting tonight. However, every Celtic who came into the game, with the exception of Von Wafer, was able to get into the scoring column tonight. The bench was again highlighted by Glen Davis (15 points) and Marquis Daniels (13 points), while Nate Robinson still searched for his stroke offensively.
On the other side of the court, The Chicago Bulls were led by Joakim Noah, who had 26 points and 12 rebounds. Luol Deng and Taj Gibson both added 20 points and 18 points respectively. Derrick Rose had 18 points and 9 assists, and could have won the game for Chicago at the end of regulation if it wasn’t for a great defensive effort by Rajon Rondo to reach in and tip the ball away as the final seconds of the quarter ticked away.
The defense was great for the Celtics, who managed to gather 11 stolen balls and three blocks as a team. The Celtics were up by as much as 16 in the third quarter, but the Bulls did not back down and stormed their way back. Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau had to admire what his former team was doing offensively against his new team. Speaking of former Celtics, Brian Scalabrine also made his return to the Garden and was given a huge ovation from the fans, who always loved him when he was introduced and entered the game.
Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal was once again not active for the game thanks to a bruised right knee. It is not certain whether or not if Shaq will travel with the team as they go out on their first extended road trip of the season. The Celtics head out to Oklahoma City next for a match-up with Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Sunday.