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BOSTON – The Big Three shined in Boston Friday night, only they were wearing red uniforms. Derrick Rose was in vintage form as he, Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler all scored in the twenties en route to a 119-103 win.
Rose carved up the Celtics defense like a Christmas ham, each step sending him exploding in a different direction until he had the ball laying softly into the net. He scored 29 points (12/20 FG) while dishing out 10 assists.
Gasol and Butler enjoyed plenty of those assists, as they were phenomenal wire-to-wire. Gasol’s 20 points and 11 rebounds were a reliable constant as the Celtics threw Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk at him with little success. Butler was a maven of the fast break, pulling up for bunnies on a dime as the Bulls finished with a 18 to 11 advantage in fast break points.
Butler scored 22 points (10-for-19 FG) with a career-high six steals. The case for him to be MVP and an all-star starter looked as strong as ever Friday, but it was Rose who really stole the show. There was no question Friday night that he is back and ready to be as good as ever.
There were few silver linings for Boston, but they stayed in the game well into the fourth quarter. Jared Sullinger was the C’s top performer, scoring a team-high 20 points with eight rebounds. Kelly Olynyk chipped in 14 points, many of them in key moments, to go with his team-high nine rebounds.
The Celtics embark on a long road trip before returning to Boston for the final game of January. By that point, Shavlik Randolph may be the best player left.