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On Saturday night against the Bulls, the Celtics were finishing up a stretch of five games in seven days. They ripped through the first four games, going 4-0 with wins over Toronto twice, Minnesota, and San Antonio. Saturday’s game was also the second night of a back-to-back, and with this aging team with older legs, the Celtics ran out of gas. The younger Bulls, who played their sixth game in nine days, outlasted Boston, winning 90-79.
The Celtics and Bulls were close up to the start of the fourth quarter, with the Bulls clinging to a three-point lead. Chicago took over however, thanks in large part to Derrick Rose’s 36 points. Rose went 10/19 from the field and 15/19 from the free-throw line, while the Celtics only attempted 22 free throws. Tommy Heinsohn must have been furious!
“From the start of the game to the end of the game he was aggressive,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “When he plays like that, because he is generating speed, if there is contact, he will get more calls. He was taking the contact on tonight and he was getting calls.”
Rose set career highs in free throws attempted (19) and made (15), putting the Celtics in serious foul trouble. Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal each with five fouls, while Shaq was saddled with four. Case and point, Rose has emerged as a star in the NBA, and the Bulls won’t go anywhere in the East without a strong effort from their point guard.
Thibodeau improved to 1-2 against his former team, where he was the team’s defensive guru the last few years. He was without Joakim Noah, but it didn’t matter, as Carlos Boozer stepped up with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics, of course, were without Kevin Garnett, but he could return as soon as next week. The loss on Saturday dropped the C’s to 5-2 without The Big Ticket.
“We just didn’t have it in us,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We just had a bad night.”
Without KG, Glen Davis started at power forward and played 43 minutes, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, and four steals. He finished just 4/17 from the field and could not get into any groove. Paul Pierce (21 points) and Ray Allen (19 points) led the scoring for Boston, while Rondo finished with 13 points, eight assists, and five steals (zero turnovers) playing against Rose.
The stretch of games continues for the Celtics, who get Sunday off before facing the Rockets Monday at the TD Garden.