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Lifeless loss in Chicago as Boston falls 126-116

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The Celtics have dropped their first two games following the All-Star break

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough loss at the Milwaukee Bucks to open the post-All-Star break run, the Boston Celtics were positioned to get back on track facing the Chicago Bulls. Instead, Boston put together a lifeless, sloppy performance and Chicago rolled to the home victory 126-116.

The Bulls were on the second game of a back-to-back, having played in Orlando the previous night. While the Celtics were resting and waiting in Chicago, the Bulls were going down to the wire against the Magic. Instead it was the Bulls who looked like the rested team, as they hammered Boston from the second quarter on.

The Celtics led by five points after the first quarter, but a 10-0 run to open the second quarter gave the Bulls a lead they would never relinquish. Overall, Chicago outscored Boston 36 to 18 in the second quarter to lead by 13 at the half.

The third quarter didn’t go much better, as the Bulls built a lead as big as 25. The Celtics rallied to cut the lead back to 13 by the end of the quarter, and then another rally to cut it to eight early in the fourth, but couldn’t get over the hump.

Boston had no answer for Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen all game long. LaVine finished with 42 points on 17-of-29 shooting, while Markkanen added 35 on 12-of-20 from the field. Robin Lopez added 17 points of his own, as the Bulls shot over 53 percent from the floor.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 37 points, while Al Horford added 19 points. Jayson Tatum scored the game’s first seven points, but finished with just nine field goal attempts and 12 points for the night. Jaylen Brown bounced back from a rough first half to score 14 points on the night.

Brown was the lone bright spot off the Boston bench, as Terry Rozier played one of his worst games of the season. Rozier scored only three points on 1-of-9 shooting. Overall, the Boston reserves combined to shoot just 11-of-30 for the game.

There’s no sugar-coating this one. This is a really bad loss for the Celtics. Most disturbing was the lack of urgency they showed for the majority of the game. There was no energy defensively, while the offense went through frustrating bouts of selfish hero-ball. That’s on Brad Stevens to figure out, as Boston surprisingly finds themselves in a fight to get homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

The Celtics next play on Tuesday night at the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors.