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2009 NBA Playoffs | Bulls (7) vs. Boston Celtics (2)

The Bulls made it interesting during Game 7, climbing back from 14 points down to get within five, but in the end it was the defending champions holding on with a 4-3 victory in what many consider the best-ever series in NBA postseason history.

2009 NBA Playoffs:
Bulls outlasted by Celtics; drop series 4-3


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D-Rose wins ROY | All-Rookie Team | Still has plenty to prove | Run has just begun

Bulls vs. Celtics: Top 10 plays

Game 7 | Celtics 109, Bulls 99 | 05.02.09

Game 7 sets national cable-television ratings record
Bendito insomnio

Sam Smith covers the NBA Playoffs:

What is the future for these Bulls players?
Bulls season over with Game 7 loss
Let the Gordon/Hinrich debate begin
Noah comes on strong again though Bulls lose
Bulls looked ready for Game 7
Game 7: Bulls history in the ultimate game

The Chicago Bulls made it interesting during Game 7 in Boston, climbing back from 14 points down to get within five under a minute to go, but in the end it was the defending world champions holding on for the win, 109-99, and a 4-3 victory in what many consider the best-ever series in NBA postseason history.

The Bulls started out strong, leading 28-23 through one quarter of play. Ben Gordon scored 17 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but it was the second frame that ultimately doomed Chicago. The Celtics took advantage turnovers and dominated the offensive glass, outscoring the Bulls 29-11 in the period and claiming a 52-38 lead at the intermission.

Although a 33-point third quarter helped Chicago cut the deficit, it was again Ray Allen (23 points, seven rebounds) and Paul Pierce (20 points, nine boards) who made enough plays down the stretch to help Boston advance, where it will face Orlando in the second round.

Ben Gordon scored 33 points to lead the Bulls, while Derrick Rose chipped in with 18 and Joakim Noah grabbed 15 boards to go with seven points. Kirk Hinrich added 16 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter.

In a hard fought series that saw 106 lead changes in it’s first six games (none in Game 3), only two took place in Game 7, one of the three non-overtime games in the series.

Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame | More postgame coverage | Top 10 plays
Quotes | Sam Smith on the first half | Recap | Box Score

Game 6 | Bulls 128, Celtics 127 (3OT) | 04.30.09

Sam Smith covers the NBA Playoffs:

Bulls even up The Greatest Series Ever Played
How to beat the Celtics in Game 6

In an already historic series, the Bulls and Celtics found a way to make it even more epic in Game 6, when Chicago outlasted Boston in three overtimes, holding on for a 128-127 victory to tie it up at 3-3 and force a final and deciding game.

Joakim Noah had another monster night on the glass, hauling in 15 boards. But it was his steal and drive to the basket, finished off with a dunk and Paul Pierce’s sixth foul, that put the Bulls up 126-123 with 35.5 seconds remaining in the final overtime.

Rajon Rondo’s putback shot with 23.7 seconds left made it a one-point game, and following Kirk Hinrich’s missed a layup, Boston had an opportunity to take the lead on what could have been their final possession. However, Derrick Rose blocked Rondo’s attempt with approximately eight seconds on the clock to secure the win.

John Salmons led the Bulls with 35 points, 14 of which came in the first quarter when the Bulls sprinted to a 28-15 lead. Rose finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Brad Miller was Chicago's unsung hero, coming off the bench to record 23 points and 10 rebounds. He connected on eight of nine shots from the field, including both his three point attempts.

Ray Allen was nearly unstoppable for Boston, pouring in 51 points on 18 of 32 from the field, including 9 of 18 from long range. Glen Davis added 23 points and seven boards.

Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame | Joakim Noah postgame
Photos and Quotes | Sam Smith on the first half | Recap | Box Score

Support from the White House: Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed writes: "[President Obama's senior adviser David] Axelrod... arranged for a "little White House family treat," a private screening of the Bulls/Celtics game Tuesday night, which was also attended by economic adviser Larry Summers and education czar Arne Duncan, one of Obama's basketball buddies. 'At one point, the president stopped by when the Bulls were ahead and stated: 'That's what I'm talking about!' Then he left. Of course, after he left the game started to fall apart, and the Celtics won 106-104.'"

Game 5 | Celtics 106, Bulls 104 (OT) | 04.28.09

Sam Smith covers the NBA Playoffs:

NBA: No penalty for Rondo's hard foul on Miller
Bulls trail 3-2 in the series no one will forget
Celtics foul up Bulls hopes in Game 5 victory
Officiating becomes an issue before Game 5
Is this Bulls/Celtics series one of the greatest ever?
Gordon shakes off injury to start Game 5

With Kevin Garnett injured and Ray Allen fouled out, Paul Pierce stepped up for the defending champions, hitting three huge shots in the final 77 seconds of another overtime thriller. Pierce finished with 26 points as the Celtics escaped with a 106-104 win and took a 3-2 advantage in the best of seven series.

This contest, another seesaw battle with 13 lead changes and 15 ties, didn’t end without a bit of controversy. Following Pierce’s jumper with 3.4 seconds to go in overtime that put Boston up by the final margin, a wide-open Brad Miller drove to the hoop off the inbounds play. Rajon Rondo hammered Miller across the face, but no flagrant foul was called, and a shaken Miller missed the first free throw before intentionally missing the second.

For Chicago, Ben Gordon led the way with 26 points and six assists after shaking off a left hamstring strain suffered in Game 4. Joakim Noah turned in another gritty performance, scoring 11 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Kirk Hinrich added 19 points off the bench, including 14 in the first half.

Rondo’s 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds led Boston; Kendrick Perkins added 16 points, 19 boards and seven blocks.

Chicago owned a 77-66 lead with 9:28 left in regulation, but the host Celtics stormed back and it was Pierce who drilled a jumper from the free throw line with 10.5 to go that tied the game at 93-93. Gordon's fadeaway attempt for the win missed and the teams were off to their third overtime game in the series, an NBA first.

Quotes |Sam Smith on the first half | Recap | Box Score

Game 4 | Bulls 121, Celtics 118 (2OT) | 04.26.09

It was Chicago’s ability to defend and execute in the second overtime that led to a 121-118 victory that evens its series with the Boston Celtics at 2-2. For the third time in four games of what’s become a breathtaking series, it took the final possession to determine a winner.

The Bulls took their first overtime lead in the second extra session, when Ben Gordon put Chicago up 112-110 with 4:46 to go. He and his teammates never gave up that lead, extending it to as many as five before John Salmons blocked a Paul Pierce three point attempt at the buzzer.

Ray Allen was clutch again for Boston, nailing a wide-open three pointer off an inbounds play with 9.8 seconds remaining in regulation. Derrick Rose’s driving floater on the next possession didn’t fall, forcing the extra session.

In the first overtime, the Celtics connected on their first five field goal attempts, but it was Gordon’s three-pointer with 4.5 seconds left that tied things up at 110-110. Rajon Rondo’s missed jumper led to the second and final overtime.

Derrick Rose’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists led a balanced Bulls attack that saw seven players reach double figures. Rose’s counterpart at point guard, Rondo, was spectacular again, as he recorded 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Gordon tallied 22 points and Salmons added 20, including a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line, four of which came in the game’s final minute.

Sam Smith: Bulls win another classic; series tied 2-2
Sam Smith: Bulls and Celtics heading for Game 4 showdown
Sam Smith: Bulls trying to figure out how to come back

Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame
Photos and Quotes |Sam Smith on the first half | Recap | Box Score

Game 3 | Celtics 107, Bulls 86 | 04.23.09

The first two games in opening round series between Boston and Chicago went down to the wire. But in Game 3, the visiting Celtics took control early and never looked back, cruising to a 107-86 victory to take a 2-1 edge in the series.

Paul Pierce finished the game with 24 points, but it was his effectiveness early that gave the Celtics a lead they never relinquished. The Boston forward recorded 13 points in the first quarter, knocking down all but one of his first seven shots as the Celtics jumped out to an 11-point lead. Point guard Rajon Rondo was effective again with 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Glen Davis added 14 points and nine boards.

Ben Gordon (15 points), John Salmons (14) and Kirk Hinrich (14) led the Bulls, who were plagued by 22 turnovers and shot only 37.5 percent from the field.

Sam Smith: Bulls red faced over blowout loss to Celtics
Rose gets rookie award; Celtics thorny for Bulls

Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame | Ben Gordon postgame
Photos and Quotes |Sam Smith's take | Chuck Swirsky recap | Recap | Box Score
Field Museum is "Seeing Red"

Game 2 | Celtics 118, Bulls 115 | 04.20.09

It took Boston’s Ray Allen awhile to get going, but once he did, he made the Bulls pay, hitting a clutch three-pointer with just two seconds remaining in the game to lift the Celtics to a 118-115 victory in Game 2 to even up the series. After missing his first 13 of 14 shots in the series, Allen bounced back with 30 points, including 6 of 10 from long range.

Chicago’s shooting guard, Ben Gordon, gave Allen all he could handle offensively, finishing with a game-high 42 points on 14 of 24 shooting from the field and 6 of 11 from behind the arc. After a dominant performance in Game 1, Derrick Rose was sidelined with foul trouble early in the game but managed to record 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Boston came out of the gates strong and jumped out to an 18-6 lead. The Bulls fought back to take a three point lead at the half, 61-58, and set the table for a thrilling second half that was back and forth down the stretch with 15 lead changes in the game. Rajon Rondo, slowed temporarily by right ankle sprain in the second quarter, finished with a triple-double, netting 19 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.

Sam Smith: Celtics even series; Bulls look like the better team
Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame | Ben Gordon postgame
Quotes | Chuck Swirsky | Recap | Box Score

Sam Smith covers the NBA Playoffs:

Bulls' backcourt of Rose and Gordon among best in NBA (04.20.09)
Could this be the start of something special for the Bulls? (04.19.09)
Childhood friends go head-to-head; the other injury in the series (04.19.09)
A closer look: Bulls vs. Celtics (04.17.09)
NBA playoffs: Round one preview (04.17.09)

Chuck Swirsky: Joakim Noah on his emotions during his first NBA playoff series
Interview with Bulls Dir. of Player Personnel Gar Forman

Game 1 | Bulls 105, Celtics 103 (OT) | 04.18.09

Derrick Rose was spectacular in his NBA postseason debut with 36 points and 11 assists, and the visiting Chicago Bulls scored a dramatic victory against the defending champion Boston Celtics, 105-103, in overtime.

Rose set a Bulls rookie record for most points scored in a postseason game, previously held by Michael Jordan (35 points). It was Rose's two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining in regulation that broke the mark, but Paul Pierce tied the game at the line with 2.6 seconds left to force the extra session. Rose also tied the NBA record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points in a postseason debut by a rookie.

Ben Gordon added 20 points for the Bulls, and Tyrus Thomas had 16 points -- including the shot to put the Bulls ahead for good in overtime -- and six boards. The win was Chicago's first-ever against Boston in the postseason.

Sam Smith: Everything's coming up Rose in Bulls playoff win
Video: Highlights | Vinny Del Negro postgame | Derrick Rose postgame
Quotes | Chuck Swirsky | Recap | Box Score | Primera sorpresa

Sam Smith covers the NBA Playoffs:

The matchup between John Salmons and Paul Pierce (04.17.09)
Del Negro: The coach who thought he would be a Celtic (04.17.09)
Tim Thomas is the X-factor (04.17.09)
Can Del Harris be a part of history repeating? (04.17.09)
With Garnett out, this changes everything (04.16.09)