The Boston Celtics lost their second consecutive game after being defeated 94-82 by the Chicago Bulls. Joakim Noah finished with a near triple-double, with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. For Boston, Jordan Crawford had his best game in quite awhile, totaling 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
Kris Humphries was the story of the first half for the Celtics, as they trailed only 48-45 heading into the break. Hump set the tone by running down loose balls and playing solid defense, all the while accumulating seven points, four rebounds, and two assists in only 11 minutes of play.
Unfortunately, the C's came out and played lifeless basketball to start the second half, as the Bulls extended their lead to ten. But as bench players trickled into the game, the Celtics appeared to have some life infused into them. Jared Sullinger and the rest of the team turned up the intensity defensively, and they began to chase down offensive rebounds at a high rate.
But trailing by only seven towards the end of the third quarter, Mike Dunleavy began to take over the game. Dunleavy? Yeah, I'm not joking. Dunleavy had an astounding run of plays: he blocked Humphries, then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back with less than one second to go in the third. Then, to start the final period, he made a layup and hit a three-pointer in transition. Over the course of an 11-0 run for the Bulls, Dunleavy had seven points, giving the Bulls a 15 point lead.
For the remainder of the game, Chicago only extended their lead, until the Celtics made a very late run. But the Bulls still held on after their dominant second half, and won 94-82. Chicago's frontcourt of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng dominated the game on both ends of the floor, scoring 32 of Chicago's 94 points, while shutting down the Celtics' starters. Besides Jordan Crawford and his efficient 22 points, the other four starters shot a combined 16-of-48 for only 37 points.
Sullinger sports a glove
Power forward Jared Sullinger wore a ridiculously huge glove on his left hand to protect a bone bruise that has been hampering him the past few weeks. CSNNE's Abby Chin reported that Sullinger said the glove especially limits him when shooting the ball. However, he did play quite a nice game against Chicago's formidable bigs, finishing with a double-double, with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Playing the matchups
Like usual, Brad Stevens first went to big men Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries off the bench, but he quickly substituted KO out after realizing that he was a liability on the boards against Chicago's elite frontcourt. Vitor Faverani was the beneficiary after not playing in a game since December 22nd. Faverani wasn't very effective in his nine minutes, with only four points and one rebound. Olynyk put up goose eggs in the box score until he got another chance very late in the fourth quarter. He finished with three points and one rebound in seven minutes of play.
On the other hand, Kris Humphries continued to make the case that he deserves more playing time. In 26 minutes, he filled up the box score with nine points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, three assists, and two steals. At this rate, Humphries could quickly become an attractive piece for a contending team as the trade deadline approaches.
Officiating a problem
It's not often I complain about to the officiating, but tonight's game was downright horrible. Bill Kennedy and his crew made calls that puzzled players on both teams. What was a foul? What wasn't? I don't know, nobody did. The didn't influence the end result, but it doesn't matter. Even though the second half was a little more acceptable than the first, the life was still sucked out of the game thanks to the referees.
I think I speak for all NBA fans when I say that it didn't feel right watching Boston-Chicago without Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose playing. They are two of the best point guards in the league, and these two young men are getting robbed of a portion of the prime of their careers. Fans are too, but at least Rondo is relatively close to returning. Before the game he said that his endurance is improving, but he's still not sure if he'll be able to return as soon as mid-January, or as late as February.
The Celtics are scheduled to play the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at TD Garden. However, the C's will be snowbound tonight in Chicago before traveling back home tomorrow morning. Next week, the Celtics begin a strenuous five-game road trip against some of the best teams in the Western Conference, including the Thunder (Sunday at 7PM), and Clippers (Wednesday at 10:30 PM).