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The Boston Celtics (28-24) have won eight of nine games after an ugly 71-69 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday nigh from the TD Garden. Both teams were without their star point guards, and offensive woes were the theme of the night as the Bulls suffered 22 turnovers and Brandon Bass had a game-high of just 14 points for the Celtics.
The C’s got off to a nice start, gathering themselves after a first quarter time out to go on a 10-0 run, giving them a 20-9 lead, which included an emphatic Jeff Green dunk off of a pass from Paul Pierce. The Captain had a quiet but productive night, scoring 8 points while dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds.
It was the Bulls who capitalized on the offensive woes of the Celtics in the middle quarters. Without point guard Derrick Rose all season, Chicago could empathize with Boston’s loss of Rajon Rondo. However, the Celtics have been surging since the season-ending ACL tear which has sidelined Rondo for the foreseeable future, while Rose’s injury has prevented the Bulls from rising up to the top of the Eastern Conference where they could be in the hunt for upon his return.
Chicago scored 21 points in the second quarter, while Boston was held to 19 on eight field goals in the second and third quarters combined. Both sides were clearly overmatched at times by the opposing defense, along with such sloppy play that even coach Doc Rivers saw less-than-adequate NBA basketball being played by the two Eastern Conference playoff contenders.
Referencing a conversation he had with the undermanned team, Rivers said “a college game broke out in the middle of a pro game. I told them it’s gonna be an ugly game. We just got to find a way to win”.
And win they did. Somehow, someway, these Celtics continue to find ways to not only win NBA games, but defeat quality opponents in every possible way. Just the other night they went into three overtimes with the Nuggets, and managed to keep pace all the way to the win, and tonight they manage to outplay a good Bulls team in an insanely low-scoring affair.
In the fourth quarter the Celtics needed a spark to retake control, and they turned to their veterans for support. Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined to score their final eight points, including two clutch free throws from Pierce with 0:10 seconds left to give the team a crucial three-point lead.
Boston attempted to dodge a chance at a Bulls tie by fouling ex-Celtic Nate Robinson, forcing free throws instead of a three-point look. After drilling the first free throw with just 0:06 seconds remaining, Robinson intentionally missed the second and Chicago grabbed the rebound, but was unable to make a pair of desperation three-point shots for the victory in the subsequent chaos.
The Celtics will take every win they can get, especially against teams like the Bulls. After All-Star weekend, Boston’s season resumes on Monday when they get a rematch with the Nuggets from the Pepsi Center in Denver.