Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bulls 109 - Celtics 102: Chicago outscores Boston in the Fourth Quarter

photo: Winslow Townson (USA Today)
It's going to be a long season if the Celtics continue to struggle in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics, who had a six-point lead heading into the last quarter of the game, were outscored by the Chicago Bulls, 24-11, in the last 12 minutes. After a Jeff Green layup, the Celtics took a two-point lead, 102-100, with 2:29 left to go in the game.

Chicago's Jimmy Butler then tied the game at the free throw line, 102-102.

In the next possession, Rajon Rondo was fouled by Derrick Rose and missed two free throws that would have given Boston the lead. Fortunately, the Celtics grabbed the offensive rebound but that led to a missed three-pointer attempted by Jared Sullinger.

Butler grabbed the rebound but at the same time was fouled by Rondo. Two more free throws for the Bulls.

Chicago took the lead, 104-102. After a Celtics timeout, Evan Turner drove to the hoop but was blocked by Joakim Noah. After a Bulls timeout, Noah sinks a jump shot to give the Bulls a four-point lead.

With 24 seconds left in the game, the Celtics, who still had a chance to come back, blew it at the free throw line again. Sullinger was fouled driving to the hoop and missed both free throws.
"I know we had a lot of open shots that didn't fall in the fourth quarter," Sullinger said. "We played the way we've been playing the whole game. Like I said, the shots just wasn't falling. We've just got to keep plugging away."
The Celtics missed 21 of 26 field goals in the final period. They went 0-for-8 from three and 1-for-5 from the free throw line throughout the fourth quarter. The Bulls at one point were down by 16 points in the first half.

Noah dominated the paint, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking 6 of Chicago's 13 blocked shots. Pau Gasol also had a big game down low. He grabbed 15 rebounds to go with his 15 points.

photo: Elise Amendola (AP)
Sullinger had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. Avery Bradley, who had 8 points in the third quarter but only took one shot in the fourth, finished with 18 points. And Brandon Bass chipped in with 16 points, 9 rebounds off the bench.

Rose, who played his third straight game for the first time this season, scored a quiet 21 points. Most of his shots were layups, the Celtics gave up a lot of them.

Butler came into TD Garden averaging 21 points this season, scored a team-high 22. He scored 10-of-12 from the charity stripe.

The Bulls shot 27-for-30 from the free throw line. The Celtics made 22 of their 29 free throws. But when it counted most, like in the fourth quarter, the Celtics missed.

"I think you just have to go out there and earn it," Coach Stevens said. "You just have to go out and do it. I don't think there's two ways around it. I don't think all of a sudden winning magically appears, because you've put your time in. I think it's about having opportunities and seizing them and grabbing them. And we're not doing that right now, and then when we do do it, it's not going to be a given the next time."
In the last three minutes, the Celtics had two chances to score while holding onto a two-point lead (102-100) but failed to convert. After a Jeff Green air-ball, Rondo stole the ball at the other end and gave his team another chance to go up by four.

But the Celtics looked stagnant. It looked like no one wanted to take the shot or make a move to the basket. Before the shot clock was up, Sullinger finally made a move to the hoop but ran over Kirk Hinrich in the process and was called for an offensive foul.

Coach Stevens substituted Evan Turner for Bass in the last minute of the game to try to spark his offense. Coming out of a timeout, it looked like coach Stevens drew up a play for Turner because no one else looked confident enough to want to score. Even from the free throw line, players like Rondo and Sullinger looked shaky. That has to change.

When no one wants to take crucial shots late in the game and two of your starters miss two big free throws in the last minute, you're chances of winning are always going to be slim.

Game Notes:

Rondo is shooting just 32 percent (9-of-28) from the free throw line this season. Celtics shoot 75 percent as a team.

Josue Pavon

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