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Celtics get bullied at the Garden

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Coach Doc Rivers wasted no time in saying what everyone else was already thinking after the Boston Celtics lost to the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at the TD Garden by a score of 96-83.

"Well we got out butt kicked tonight, you know, in every fashion."

After scoring 38 points in the first quarter against the New Jersey Nets last night, the Celtics could only muster up 39 in the first half of tonight's game against the Bulls. Coming into tonight, the Celtics were playing their fifth game in six nights, and after tonight's loss, they finished 2-3 in that stretch- dropping two games to Atlanta along the way.

For a veteran team already plagued by the injury bug, a stretch of games like the past week can be one excuse the Celtics could use for their lack of productivity, but they won't.

"You know, we don't make excuses," Paul Pierce said. "We feel like we're at home, we should be a better team at home then what we've been playing as of late and we should win these types of games regardless of how many games [we've previously played]."

With tonight's home loss against Chicago, the Celtics are now 11-6 at home and 15-5 away from home. The last two home losses have been without two important members of the Celtics- Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. But still, that is not a valid reason for tonight's loss.

"We played short handed last year, we won a lot of games, so that's not an excuse," Pierce said.

Talking about the lack of energy shown by the team tonight, Pierce stated, "We would go on a run and cut the lead to five or six, and then it was like our energy went away. They got an offensive rebound, or we'd gamble and turn the ball over and kind of kill the momentum and we just didn't have the consistency all night."

Updated with game highlights after the jump, and bonus Jazz/Cavs highlights if you haven't seen it, really fantastic.  

A perfect example of this came with 5:06 to play in the 4th quarter. The Celtics were in the midst of a run, cutting the deficit from 10 points to six points. Rajon Rondo stole the ball from Rose and started the fast break the other way. Rondo gambled and tried to pass the ball through traffic where it was stolen by Taj Gibson, who later dunked it on that possession. What could have been a four-point Bulls lead turned into an eight-point Bulls lead, and the Celtics never could get closer than six points after that.

Rondo finished the night with 15 points, seven assists, three steals, and five of the Celtics' 18 turnovers.

"We just looked sluggish the entire night," said Rondo. "You know, offensively we didn't get into a good rhythm and defensively I don't think we helped each other as a team. We didn't make the second and third effort. We didn't do a good job running the offensive execution tonight."

There were many times in the game where it looked as if players were trying to do it themselves, and failed to make that extra pass, or find the open player. Eddie House, who had the hot hand tonight, was open numerous times in the fourth quarter but not looked at.

"I wasted at least three time outs to remind them: second option, third option, move the ball, move the ball. And it was like one option shot, bad shot, contested shot, forced a lot. Force the action. They have shot blockers when you get to the paint; those are the best times to make passes back out, passes to the post- and we just didn't do it."

With Kevin Garnett and Wallace out, Kendrick Perkins is finding his time in the paint to be much less fun than usual. Perkins has been double-teamed down low as of late, and the guards have been slow to react and get open when they are needed.

"Both of those guys are all-star players," said Perkins. "That's what our whole offense is. How they're able to stretch the floor and shoot jumpers, and Rasheed stretching the three and everything that KG brings to the court. So now (opposing players) can help off of guys and help even more, and it's hard when you don't have that many shooters on the court."

One thing you can never make an excuse for is missing free throws. The Celtics did plenty of that tonight as they went 15-28 (54%) from the charity stripe. Pierce uncharacteristically went 6-10 from the line, and Rondo truer to form went 3-7 from the line. Ray Allen, one of the best free throw shooters in the league, failed to go to the line at all.

There were plenty of things the Celtics did wrong tonight, but they have the long weekend to get it back together in time for Monday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks.  

"I don't think our communication tonight was where it needed to be as far as on the defensive end," Perkins said. "Obviously we didn't score enough points, we didn't execute on offense so I think in these couple of days we can regroup, have a few good practices and just come back."