Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls top Celtics 101-92

Bulls sixth straight win brings team to 22-12 on season

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By Sam Smith | 1.7.2016 | 9:22 p.m.

The Bulls with a team wide balanced effort Thursday won their sixth straight game, 101-92 over the Boston Celtics.

The Bulls had six players score in double figures led by Jimmy Butler with 19 points and 10 assists Derrick Rose with 18 points. Pau Gasol had 17 points and 18 rebounds as the Bulls overcame a 10-point second quarter deficit. Tony Snell added 10 points off the bench.

The Bulls moved to 22-12 on the season while Boston fell to 19-17 and the Bulls avenged an earlier loss in Boston.

The Bulls got off to a solid start behind a pair of Gasol jumpers, but then got caught up in trying to exploit mismatches against the smaller Celtics. It slowed the Bulls pace as they forced several interior passes that became turnovers and enabled Boston to gain the momentum that carried through the quarter. Boston got Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger slipping outside for jumpers and a 27-21 lead after one. The reserves then struggled again in an uneven start to the second quarter as the Celtics inched ahead 35-29 midway through the quarter.

The Bulls were falling back into recent habits of isolation play. But with Rose and Butler returning to the game, the pace quickened and the Bulls went into halftime leading 48-47 as Rose had a dozen at halftime. The Bulls began to take charge in the third quarter with the sort of speed they’d practiced. Nikola Mirotic got a rebound and threw an outlet to the left wing to Rose who found Taj Gibson streaking in for a layup, a three-second play as the Bulls took an early 61-49 lead. The Bulls’ defense began to close harder on the shooters as the Bulls held the Celtics to seven for 32 shooting in the third quarter.

The Bulls went into the fourth quarter leading 74-63 as Gasol had 16 points and 15 rebounds through three quarters. This is a relentless Boston team lacking the so called big star but relentless in its play. They came back to open the fourth quarter to get within 76-70. Rose then got a rare technical foul after once again barreling toward the basket without a foul call. It’s remained a mystery Rose’s career as often as he drives to the basket and so few foul calls he is awarded despite contact. But then Doug McDermott got a spot up three and Rose finished strong to give the Bulls some room at 90-83 as the clock ticked down to about four minutes. Butler and Rose down the stretch connected in several plays for one another that kept the Celtics from making a run.