Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bulls 94 – Celtics 80: Bulls' fourth quarter run too much for C's, lose fifth straight

Chicago – On the second night of a back-to-back, there was no Rondo leading his troops or DJ Augustin going off for 33 points. Instead it was Mike Dunleavy going 7-for-12 on the way to a, 94-80, Bulls victory over the Celtics, their second straight win in two days.

The United Center witnessed a great back and fourth for three quarters. Boston kept Augustin in check, and it was effective, he went 1-for-9 scoring just four points. But the guard found other ways to get involved which included dishing out 11 assists to his trigger-happy teammates. In the end, five Bulls finished in double-figures and Dunleavy led the pack with 22 points.

Joakim Noah added 19 points, 11 rebounds and Jimmy Butler chipped in 18. Carlos Boozer scored 16 points and Taj Gibson had a double-double; 14 points and 11 boards in the win.

“From the beginning of the game I knew they were going to do that, adjust to me,” Augustin said of the Celtics limiting his offense. “I had to do some other things and find my teammates and they did a great job getting open.”

For the Celtics it was their fifth straight defeat, and their 10th straight loss on the road. Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless led the way scoring 18 points apiece, while Kris Humphries added 11 points. Rajon Rondo didn’t play because he is still not playing second nights of back-to-backs, and Avery Bradley played only 14 minutes before heading to the locker room because of a sore right Achilles. He did not return to the game.

“They’re a good team,” Bayless said. “We don’t have room for error. We made a couple of bad plays in a row and they’re too good and they got on the break and hit their shots. We have to pull it together for longer stretches of time.”

Boston was down eight early in the second quarter and they rallied to take a nine-point lead before the second quarter ended. By halftime the Bulls cut into the lead and it was, 50-48.

The game remained tight through the third and the Bulls took the lead, 71-70, entering the fourth quarter. Within the first three and a half minutes, Chicago kept their foot on the gas to make it 80-70 before Stevens called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

Before you knew it two more made field goals by Gibson and Noah capped off a 13-0 run that made it, 84-70. Celtics coach called another timeout, but the damage had been done as the home team could breathe easy as they never let up on their lead the rest of the way. Boston was held to just 10 points in the final 12 minutes.

Augustin handed out six assists, and when it was all over the Bulls were 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and were tied for the third seed after a Raptors lost.

“It wasn’t just the fourth quarter,” said Brad Stevens. “The first five minutes of the third and the fourth we went into a drought. We looked heavy-legged the whole second half.”

Boston will head out to Washington D.C. to play the Wizards on Wednesday night. The last time these two met, it was an overtime thriller that resulted in one of the best wins of the season. Jeff Green went off for 39 points and Rondo was out. Hopefully this time around the Celtics repeat and snap this current losing streak. Tip-off is at 7:30 on CSNNE.

Game Notes:
At halftime both teams were shooting just over 51-percent from the field. By the end of the game Boston finished with 40-percent to the Bulls’ 48-percent.

Avery Bradley left early in the second quarter on what he says is tendentious in his right ankle; he has been listed as day-to-day. Phil Pressey picked up some of the slack in AB’s absence, scoring nine points and dishing out three assists in 19 minutes. With this loss the Celtics were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in seven seasons. In case you missed it Rondo joined Mike Gorman commentating the first half of the game’s telecast. He returned to the Celtics’ bench at halftime.

Joel Pavón

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