Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 79, Bulls 90

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 79, Bulls 90

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Jermaine O'Neal, Luke Harangody

Glen Davis, who shot only 4-of-17 from the field, attempts a baby hook over Carlos Boozer in the paint.
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

When Rajon Rondo ripped a steal from Derrick Rose with 7:09 remaining in the game and the C’s trailing by six, it looked as if it was going to result in one final push for Boston. He took one dribble and absorbed contact from Ronnie Brewer on the sideline before heaving up a shot from three-quarters court as the nearest referee blew his whistle.

The referees came together to discuss the call, and many thought that they were determining if Rondo would be awarded two free throws, meaning they would consider his heave an actual shot attempt. Instead, the refs gathered around a monitor to review the play for a different reason.

After reviewing the play for a short period of time, referees determined that Brewer’s foul was of the clear path nature, which resulted in two free throws and possession of the ball for Boston.

With that opportunity in tow, Boston had a chance to slice Chicago’s lead down to a one-possession game if Rondo could hit his free throws and the team could make one big bucket. Sadly for the C’s, nearly the exact opposite happened.

Rondo made the first free throw but went on to miss the second. Still with a chance to cut Chicago’s lead to a one-possession game, the C’s settled for a 20-foot jumper from Paul Pierce that was awry and Brewer reeled in the rebound. That board led to a leak-out by the Bulls that resulted in a wide open 3-pointer by Luol Deng. To that point, Deng, who had been red-hot entering tonight’s game, had scored only four points in the contest, but this one seemed destined to fall. When it did, putting the Bulls ahead by eight with 6:47 remaining, it was clear that all of the momentum had fallen into Chicago’s lap.

Boston scored the next basket off of a layup from Rondo, but it was all Bulls from that point on. Rose nailed two consecutive jumpers and Boozer followed up with a free throw. That quick, 5-0 spurt put Chicago ahead by 11 points with 4:40 remaining on the clock. That was the largest lead of the game to that point.

On a typical night, an 11-point lead over the Celtics with nearly five minutes remaining on the clock would be nowhere near a sure thing. Tonight, however, Boston simply had nothing left in the tank.

Playing their fifth game in seven nights, it was clear that the Celtics didn’t have the energy to string together a dramatic comeback in the final minutes of the game. Their opportunity to change the course of this game came when Rondo drew the clear path foul more than two minutes earlier, but the C’s couldn’t capitalize.

Key Box Score Line

An opposing player doesn’t fill this area very often, but it’s impossible to ignore 36 points.

Throughout tonight’s game, it looked as if Derrick Rose took it personally that Rajon Rondo had outplayed him in their two previous meetings this season. He was in attack mode from the second the opening tip was tossed, and it resulted in a monster night for Chicago’s point guard.

Rose racked up a game-high 36 points – 15 more than any Celtic – and did so in a very efficient manner. He made 10 of his 19 shot attempts and put stress on Boston’s defense all night long. His quick moves had the C’s on their heels and left them with only one option: foul. That technique wound up sending Rose to the line for 19 free throw attempts, 15 of which he made.

Many observers will point to his two assists tonight and assume that Rose was a selfish basketball player, but that is far from the truth. His 36 points were as quiet as they could come, as he didn't force shots and scored when his team needed him to.

For the first time in three meetings this season, Rondo will have to tip his cap in Rose’s direction, because Chicago’s point guard got the best of him and his teammates tonight.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston shot only 37.8 percent from the field.
  • After recording at least 30 assists in their last two games, the C's had only 12 total dimes tonight.
  • Chicago outrebounded Boston 48-27.
  • Derrick Rose's 19 free throw attempts were only three less than Boston's entire team atteempted.
  • Paul Pierce and Ray Allen scored 21 and 19 points, respectively, to lead the C's.
  • Rajon Rondo stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five rebounds, eight assists and five steals.
  • Rose scored a game-high 36 points but had only two assists.
  • Rondo's five steals were as many as Chicago's entire team grabbed.
  • Chicago committed 21 turnovers, while Boston committed only six.
  • Ronnie Brewer (10 points) and Jermaine O'Neal (six points) were the only reserves to score more than two points in the game.
  • Glen Davis shot only 4-of-17 from the field.
  • Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas each blocked four of Boston's shots, accounting for eight of Chicago's nine blocks.
  • Carlos Boozer had 22 points and a game-high 10 rebounds

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on his team's overall performance tonight: "We were pretty awful. Let's give them the credit, but we were bad. That's the worst ball movement that we've had this year. We basically bounced the life out of the game tonight."