The game started on a somewhat ominous tone, when at only the 10:15 mark, the Bulls threw an alley-oop to Curry overtop a post-fronting Mark Blount. 4-2 Bulls. However, the Celtics took a 10-9 lead at 7:19, on a Blount 10fter, which gave him 6 for the game already.
There are few things in basketball that are more upliftingly comedic and encouraging than when someone from the other team blows a dunk. Eddie Curry provided that moment around the 6:20 mark, when he was challenged by Raef and took off from farther than he could reach from. He was stuffed by the rim.
Chicago had picked it up a bit and with 3:50 left, Blount hit another mid-range shot to get the score to 17-14, Chicago. Gary Payton was taking early advantage of a matchup against Hinrich and was taking the ball to the hole. This score made it 18-16 Bulls. Ben Gordan had a largely quiet first half, but hit a jumper to make it 20-16 and with 2:30 left, the C's took a timeout.
C's came out of the short break and saw Blount take some physical abuse from Curry for the team's benefit, as he drew an offensive charge. Baby Shaq did his best Daddy Diesel imitation and body banged Blount 3 times to make space for his shot. Hinrich hit a 3pter with 1:16 left and the C's took another timeout, trailing 24-16. Perkins entered the game at 1:14. By :33.6, he had collected 2 fouls and was subbed out for Tom Gugliota (Googs). Nocioni ended the 1st when he flew in for a follow up dunk off a miss.
End of 1: 27-20 - Chicago.
RD started off the quarter with a pull up jumper off a Googs pick. 27-22 Bulls. There was a scary moment when RD got caught paratrooping. He bit big time on a Nocioni pump fake and litterly jumped up, as Nocioni ducked, and hit Nocioni in the jaw with his knee. He slid over the top of him and fell the the floor hard, but thankfully wasn't injured. Nocioni stayed in the game, but when he was subbed for at 9:10, he was still rubbing his jaw and the teams trainer was looking at him.
Googs got into the scorebook with a jumper at 7:40 which got the C's to 30-25. Banks hit 1 of 2 FT's to make it 30-26. (I mention the FT's because they were a big part of the game. The C's stayed in this game in the first half because of FT shooting.) A long RD 2 broke a mini surge from the Bulls and at 5:42, the C's trailed 35-28. PP, (who was mostly stone cold from the field tonight), got into the scorebook with 4:30 left in the half, hitting 1 of 2 FT's. RD and GP got it to 42-39, with drives and 3pters. Jiri collected a rebound and passed it to a hard pushing GP who went in for a layup, but was fouled. He should have gotten the hoop off what should have been Chandler goaltending. 46-45 with :31 left. Jiri pulled up for a 10ft baseline shot with 10 ticks left to put the C's ahead, but Pargo hit the backend of a FT trip to tie it.
At the HALF: 47 - 47
Celtic Stat Leaders: Payton - 15pts. Davis - 11pts. Pierce - 10rbs
PP opened the 2nd half with 2 FT's. (Note: Just to let you know, PP shooting FT's will be a reoccuring theme for the rest of the game) Raef hit a jumper which made it 51-49, with 11:07 left. Blount recorded his first rebound at 10:40. The C's trailed 53-49 with 9:31 left when Tony Allen left the game with what Tommy Heinsohn described as 4 "cheap fouls". Duhon collected his 4th only seconds later and left the game with the Bulls leading 53-51.
Gordon scored off an easy offensive rebound at 7:37 and I wanted to pull my hair out at the lack of anything close to a body being put on him. PP, now 6/9 from the line, tied the game at 54. Raef then showed some nice scoring touch from low post as he hit a turn-around fade-away on the baseline. What made it better was that he got the ball off an offensive rebound. 56 ALL, 5:50 left.
Gordon scored on a 3pter and a drive, but GP killed his run with a 3pter. 61-59, 3:54 remaining. Raef then went down with a leg injury and the C's had to burn a :20 timeout to get him off the court. Thankfully, he would be ok. Random Stat: Points in the Paint - Bulls: 28 Celtics: 12
Ben Gordon had a big 3rd quarter, scoring 15 of his 26 pts (thru 3) in the stanza. (So alot of the Bulls scoring that happened in between the stuff I write about, is mostly from him.)
Time Stamp:69-59, 2:25 left. Perkins and Curry got into a little pushing after a lockup foul. They had to be seperated and were both assessed technical fouls. At the 2:00 mark, Perkins was ejected from the game on a flagrant/intentional foul call on Tyson Chandler's drive to the hole. Aside:What I can't figure out is that how do you punish a guy for doing what he's supposed to: block shots. Perkins clearly had a good portion of the ball and was making a legitimate play on the ball. This ejection was garbage IMO, and was done to make the point that the referees were in charge of the game. Sorry, but that's my rant. BAD CALL.
The C's hung with the Bulls, until PP finally hit his first FG at 1:25 bringing the C's to within 10 back at 74-64. RD hit a 3pter with :49 left to make it 76-68. PP took a bad runner to end the quarter that seemed forced, as he continued to struggle from the field, trying to find his touch.
End of 3: 76-68 BULLS
After having a big 3rd, Gordon collected his 4th foul at only the 11:24 mark, Bulls still leading 77-69. Hinrich collects his 4th foul only seconds later. "I Love" Waltah was heard at 10:15 when his 3pter made it 77-73. Celtic pg's continued to take advantage of the Hinrich matchup with Banks taking him to the hole for a score at 9:35 to narrow the Celtics deficit to 3, 78-75 Bulls. Jiri hit a 3pter at 8:25 and the C's pulled to within 1 at 79-78. PP finally got a friendly roll from the rim, on a drive to the basket and the Celtics lead 80-79 with 7:58 remaining. Raef collected his 4th foul with the Bulls leading 83-80. PP stepped in front of Hinrich to collect the offensive charge at 7:02. At 6:29 Hinrich collected his final call and fouled out. He was not happy and let the referees know. Mike Gorman noted: "I think it's safe to say that nobody likes the officials tonight!".
PP hit 2 more FT's at 6:17 to make it 85-84 Bulls. Gordon scored and was fouled, but failed to convert on the FT at 5:54 and the Bulls led 87-84. RD then took over momentarily. He scored on a jumper at 4:45 to close it to 91-86. He then missed a shot, got his own rebound and scored on the putback at 3:50 to make it 92-88. He then hit FT's at 3:30 to close it to 92-90. Just as you watch Gordon hit a 3pter to rain on the parade at 3:10, Raef answers from deep on the next possession and it's 95-93 Bulls with 2:55 remaining.
A timeout was called by Chicago at 2:41. The score is 95-93, Chicago. Nocioni just fouled out and PP is going to the line for 2 FT's after the timeout. PP tied it at 95 with the charity stripe work. Chandler tipped in a Curry miss for a Bulls score and RD muscled a score in the post and it's 97 ALL.
GP then hit a big 3pter as the Celtics hit the Bulls Magic Defensive# = 100. The Bulls are 1-6 when giving up 100 pts. GP's 3pter makes it 100-97 with 1:39 left. The only scoring from there was PP finishing his big night from the line, hitting 1 of 2 FT's with :05 left.
Final Score: 101-97 - CELTICS WIN.
Player of the Game: YOU CALL IT!
Gary Payton: 23pts, 5rbs, 3 asst. (15 in 1st half helped keep C's in it)
Ricky Davis: 24pts, 1rbs, 2 asst. (11 in the 1st half means consistant scoring across the game)
Raef LaFrentz: 12pts, 9rbs, 4 asst, 4 stls. (Solid all around effort tonight, particularly with the refs the way they were. He took alot of physical abuse tonight.)
Paul Pierce: 18pts, 15rbs, 4 asst. (Showed he could lead tonight. Had bad shooting game, but kept total shots low and took advantage getting to the line. For a guard, thats a nice boards contribution too.)