FINAL, Bulls 96-83: The Celtics ran out of gas during their fourth game in five nights, falling to the Bulls 96-83 tonight at TD Garden. Luol Deng was the high scorer with 25 points.
The Bulls didn't do anything spectacular, but their young legs out-ran the Celtics all night long. Boston had no one to guard Deng, Derrick Rose, or Joakim Noah on offense, while Chicago's defense made it far too difficult for the Celtics to get points. Case in point: It took Paul Pierce 18 attempts to register 20 points.
The Celtics now have a full three days off before returning to the Garden Monday night to face the Mavericks.
1:48 4th quarter, Bulls 90-80: Defense is going to seal this game for the Bulls down the stretch. Celtics cannot get the big bucket to cut the deficit below a two or three-possession game.
4:30 4th quarter, Bulls 85-77: Every run the Celtics make seems to be met with a response from the Bulls. Boston is running out of time to close the gap. Some fans have seen enough and are headed for the exits.
8:06 4th quarter, Bulls 75-71: Not only did Perkins check in, he picked up a quick foul and a lay-up with a foul, then a block, upon his return.
9:24 4th quarter, Bulls 74-67: Not sure what's up with Kendrick Perkins. He's only got two fouls but finds himself on the bench having played 27 minutes.
END 3d quarter, Bulls 70-63: Paul Pierce had nine points in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo eight, as the Celtics closed the gap to make this a game heading into the final frame. Pierce is just 5 of 15, and the Celtics are 3 of 12 from behind the arc.
Glen Davis has asserted himself off the bench for Boston. He's got 6 points and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. Combined with Kendrick Perkins, he is the front line for the Celtics (besides a cameo appearance from Shelden Williams).
7:24 3d quarter, Bulls 60-47: And just like that the game is getting out of hand. For those of you keeping track of such things, Luol Deng still hasn't missed (6 of 6).
8:59 3d quarter, Bulls 54-47: Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce are inching closer to double-figures -- they each have nine -- and the Celtics are still very much in this game.
Halftime, Bulls 47-39: Either the Bulls are playing phenomenal defense, or the Celtics are stinking up the joint. No Celtics player has reached double-figures. The team is shooting 42 percent and has 11 turnovers.
On defense, the Celtics need to find a way to slow down Luol Dening -- he's got 16 points and hasn't missed from the floor or from the line.
2:52 2d quarter, Bulls 39-31: It may only appear that way, but the Celtics seem to play better with the second unit than the first. This game has gotten ugly. Both teams are down to 41 percent shooting.
6:39 2d quarter, Bulls 33-27: The second unit of the Celtics has clamped down on defense this quarter -- the Bulls are just 1 of 11 to this point in the second after shooting 57 percent in the first quarter.
8:28 2d quarter, Bulls 33-25: The Bulls were up 13, but a jumper by Eddie House and a three-pointer by Paul Pierce have the crowd back into this game.
END 1st quarter, Bulls 29-18: Rebounding. Offense. Defense. Yup. You can also blame free-throw shooting -- the Celtics are 4 of 11 from the line. Not much has gone right for the Celtics so far. Rajon Rondo's taken 7 free throws and 5 shots. He has 7 points total. Too much Rondo. Not enough Paul Pierce or Ray Allen (4 points combined).
2:34 1st quarter, Bulls 23-14: Derrick Rose took himself out of the game with an unbelievably dumb foul against Rajon Rondo, Rose's second. The Bulls are winning this game with agressive defense and rebounding. They have 12 points in the paint. Luol Deng (8 points) hasn't missed.
5:20 1st quarter, Bulls 19-9: John Salmons checks in. Remember when he torched the Celtics for 38 points?
6:44 1st quarter, Bulls 15-6: The Bulls look like something they haven't been -- a good team. Chicago's frenzied defense has forced the Celtics into 3 of 9 shooting. On offense, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng look like matchup nightmares.
8:40 1st quarter, Bulls 9-6: More hated villain: Mike Bibby, or Joakim Noah? Probably Bibby.
Noah's got two rebounds already for the Bulls. He's a fun player to watch.
Pregame: It's 8:04 p.m. and the game isn't scheduled to start for 13 more minutes. It'll be bedtime by halftime.