Ford Keys to the Game: Bulls 88, Celtics 79

Ford Keys to the Game

Bulls 88, Celtics 79

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Mickael Pietrus

Mickael Pietrus shows off his new jersey after drilling the 3-pointer that brought Boston within one point in the fourth quarter.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Watching tonight’s game felt as if we were all watching a replay of Wednesday night’s loss, with the exception of Chicago being substituted in for Dallas.

Boston started out slow (13 points in the first quarter), fell behind by a huge margin (20 points), and then crawled back into the game in the second half (within 67-66 with 10 minutes` remaining).

The finale of this one felt a lot like Wednesday night’s loss to the Mavericks too, and that means the Celtics fell short yet again.

Boston managed to climb back to within one point thanks to a 13-0 run that spilled over from the third quarter into the fourth. Mickael Pietrus’ 3-pointer capped the run with 10 minutes left in the game.

The TD Garden crowd was rocking and the Celtics had all of the momentum. It felt at that point as if the C’s were destined to finish off a dramatic comeback in front of their home crowd.

Then déjà vu set in again, and it wasn’t fun to watch.

The two teams traded points after Boston climbed within one and the score stood at 71-68, with Chicago in front, at the 8:13 mark after Kevin Garnett drilled a jumper for Boston. The next possession was the biggest of the game for both teams.

On Thursday, Doc Rivers raved about Derrick Rose’s ability to dominate in the fourth quarter, and tonight we all watched it first hand. Rose had scored four straight points before drilling a huge 3-pointer on Chicago’s next possession to double his team’s lead from three all the way up to six.

That play was eerily similar to a key play on Wednesday night, when Rajon Rondo left his man, Jason Terry, to help defend another Maverick. Terry wound up hitting a wide-open 3 that essentially sealed the game for Dallas.

On this play, Rondo left Rose wide-open behind the 3-point line when he decided to double-team another Bulls player down on the baseline. Similar play, exact same result.

"On one we were double-teaming and it was a three-point game," Rivers said of the huge 3s Chicago hit down the stretch, including Rose's. "That's where the effort is phenomenal, but just not the execution part of it. It's down the stretch, that's what's so disheartening. I think two of them, of the 3s, were that. Everybody, they want to win so bad because they see how we're playing. They want to get it for us. You just try to do too much instead of just doing your job.”

That was the play that changed the tune of this contest and squashed Boston’s hope of finishing off the comeback. Rose wound up scoring 12 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to lead Chicago to an 88-79 victory.

Key Box Score Line

For three-plus quarters, Rajon Rondo outperformed the NBA’s reigning MVP. Derrick Rose’s 12 points in the fourth quarter were the only things that prevented Rondo from being the absolute star of this game.

Rondo was a menace at both ends of the court tonight and Chicago really had no answer for him. No. 9 finished with a stuffed box score that included 14 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and four steals. He outperformed Rose in every one of those categories except for points, where Rose scored a game-high 25. It took Rose 11 more shot attempts (21) to score his points than it took Rondo (10 attempts) to score his.

Boston’s point guard has been the team’s best player since the very first game of the season. He has dominated opponents and given everything he has had. Tonight, that was good enough to outperform the league’s MVP, but it wasn’t enough to grab the big win.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Both teams finished with 20 assists.
  • The Celtics turned the ball over only nine times.
  • Ray Allen scored a team-high 16 points.
  • Kevin Garnett started the game 0-for-5 from the field but finished by making four of his final five shots.
  • Derrick Rose scored a game-high 25 points.
  • Chicago attempted 21 free throws to Boston's 13.
  • Rajon Rondo finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and four steals.
  • Five players (four Celtics, one Bull) played exactly 55 seconds.
  • Boston scored only 33 total points in the first half.
  • There were only five total shots attempted on the fast break in the game, three by Boston and two by Chicago.
  • Chicago outrebounded Boston 46-34.
  • Chicago's bench combined to record only eight points, two rebounds and one assist.
  • The Bulls scored 24 second-chance points.
  • Luol Deng recorded 21 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
  • Joakim Noah also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards.
  • Brandon Bass led the Celtics with nine rebounds. He also scored 10 points.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on his recent play: "I have to play better for us to win ball games and I realize that. Right now we’re going through a little lull, and we’ve just got to get through it.."