Saturday, May 8, 2021

Bulls 121, Celtics 99: Kemba Walker's 33 points not enough against Chicago

With playoff implications on the line, the Celtics began the night in sixth place before the Chicago Bulls kept their postseason hopes alive with a 121-99 blowout win Friday night.

Kemba Walker scored a season-high 33 points on 10-of-22 shooting and 6-of-13 from 3-point range, while Evan Fournier added 17 points. Jayson Tatum struggled from the field, going 3-of-15 to finish with only nine points in 38 minutes.
"They're a tough matchup for us," coach Brad Stevens said. "Obviously, I think they played really well, and we did not shoot the ball well, and it kind of went from there."
The Celtics, who are looking to avoid the 'Play-In Tournament,' were without Jaylen Brown (sprained ankle) and Robert Williams (turf toe). They're now 35-32 on the season and in seventh place with five games left to play.

Coby White and Zach LaVine each finished with 25 points apiece, while Nikola Vucevic recorded his first triple-double of his Bulls career -- 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists -- to lead Chicago to a 28-39 record and pulled within three games behind the Washington Wizards for the final spot in the play-in.

Boston trailed by as many as 21 in the third quarter before using a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to eight in the fourth with 6:03 left to play.

Chicago went on a 16-4 run and held the Celtics to just nine points the rest of the way, as Stevens emptied his bench with 3:02 remaining.

It was a back and forth first quarter, as the Bulls grabbed a 60-46 lead at halftime and it was all downhill for Boston going forward.

Chicago shot 18-of-40 from behind the arc, out-rebounded the Celtics 52-47 and forced 14 turnovers.

The Celtics were winners of three out of their last four and trail the Heat (36-31) who are in sixth by one game. They'll host Miami Sunday afternoon at 1 PM on ESPN and again Tuesday night.

Game Notes:

Celtics hit 40.7% of their shots (11-of-39 from 3) and the Bulls made 43.4% from the floor, as Boston outscored Chicago in the paint 44-34.


Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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