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Celtics Lose Overtime Heartbreaker to Bulls

Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich (ESPNBoston.com)

In a game that they didn’t deserve to win, the Celtics still had multiple chances to do just that, dropping an overtime thriller to the Chicago Bulls, 100-99. Trailing for most of the game, the Celtics were outplayed by an undermanned Bulls squad in their second frustrating loss in a row.

They trailed for nearly the entirety of regulation, taking their first lead at the 4:37 mark of the 4th quarter on a Rajon Rondo free throw. Late in the 4th Quarter, the Celtics had an 88-86 lead, and the ball, with only 12.1 seconds remaining. Pierce got the inbounds pass, but was promptly swarmed by Bulls defenders, and Joakim Noah tied him up, resulting in a jump ball.

This brain cramp by Pierce came back to haunt them immediately when Noah won the tip, and after Marco Belinelli was stripped under the basket, the loose ball found its way out to Kirk Hinrich, who sank an elbow jumper with 2 seconds remaining on the clock to tie the game.

The contest went to overtime, and in the extra period the Celtics again found themselves with a chance to seal the game. The overtime period was back and forth, but was marked by several players fouling out, including Rondo and Jared Sullinger, who again was huge on the glass with 15 rebounds. Nevertheless, Jason Terry drained a right wing jumper to put the Celtics up 99-98 with 12.5 left on the clock. Again, the Celtic defense rose to the challenge, meeting Boozer and Noah underneath, but Boozer somehow found Belinelli with a pass, and his off-balance prayer swished through the net to give Chicago the victory.

The Bulls were paced by Carlos Boozer, who had a big night with 19 points and 20 boards, while Rondo proided the lone bright spot offensively for the C’s, pouring in 30 points to go with 7 assists.¬†Overall, the Boston offense struggled mightily, with Paul Pierce shooting 5-17 from the floor and Kevin Garnett starting the game in a 1-10 rut. They were without the ailing Avery Bradley, whose ribs were still sore and didn’t suit up on Friday. Leandro Barbosa got the start, but only saw the court for 14:44, with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry getting most of the minutes.

After the game, Kevin Garnett was visibly frustrated while speaking with reporters in the locker room, as a very subdued team wasted no time dressing and leaving, speaking only briefly with reporters after such a tough loss.

Boston will look to break out of their mini-skid on their upcoming road trip, as they travel to Detroit and Cleveland for a pair of games on Sunday and Tuesday.

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