The Celtics lost in overtime Friday night against Chicago, but they really lost the game at the end of regulation.
Forget about Marco Belinelli’s game-winning jumper with 3.1 seconds left in overtime. The Celtics had this game in the bag and they gave it away.
Boston had put itself in perfect position to win the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. They were up by two points with 12.1 seconds left on the clock and Chicago had no timeouts left. All Boston needed to do was inbound the ball and either take the foul the Bulls were going to commit on purpose, or call a timeout if things weren’t looking pristine. Somehow, the Celtics failed to do both.
The ball was inbounded to Paul Pierce directly in front of Chicago’s bench. The Bulls immediately trapped Pierce on the sideline and he had absolutely nowhere to go. The first thing the Celtics and Pierce should have thought at that moment was to call for a timeout. However, they either didn’t call for it quick enough or they didn’t call it loudly enough.
Despite the fact that the Celtics anticipated what was coming, they failed to execute, as Doc Rivers said after the game.
“I told our guys in the timeout… they’re going to trap. I said, ‘Guys, they’re going to trap. They never foul right away. They’re going to trap and then foul,’” said Rivers.
He continued explaining the situation by saying, “We talked about it. We knew they were going to trap. And we’ve got to just do whatever we can not to get tied up.”
Instead, the Celtics allowed themselves to be tied up. The whistle eventually blew and it was to call a jump ball between Pierce and Joakim Noah. Noah wound up winning the jump ball and we all know what happened from there. Kirk Hinrich tied it up to send the game to overtime, and then Belinelli sent his team to a monumental victory in the extra session.
Key Box Score Line
The Celtics can thank Rajon Rondo for the fact that they even sniffed a victory Friday night. He carried the team during the point guard’s season-best scoring night.
Rondo, who lit the Bulls up for 26 points on December 18, did it again on Friday. He scored a season-high 30 points thanks to a 12-of-21 shooting performance. Rondo, Brandon Bass and Jason Terry were the only Celtics who made more than half of their shots in the game. The difference between that trio, however, is that Rondo attempted nearly twice as many shots as Bass and Terry combined.
Boston’s point guard also led the game with seven assists before fouling out in overtime. He finished with nearly 42 minutes of playing time that also included two rebounds and two assists.
Box Score Nuggets
- Neither the Celtics nor the Bulls have outscored each other by more than six points in any of their 12 quarters or one overtime session this season.
- Neither team led by more than 10 points.
- Carlos Boozer led the game with 20 rebounds while also contributing 19 points.
- The Bulls, one of the top rebounding teams in the league, won the rebounding battle by just one, at 43-42.
- Rajon Rondo recorded game highs of 30 points (12-of-21 shooting) and seven assists.
- Both teams scored at least 19 points in all of the four quarters.
- The Celtics outscored the Bulls 46-38 in the paint.
- Boston shot 20-of-28 from the free-throw line.
- Kevin Garnett, who scored 16 points, tied his season high with 10 free throw attempts. He made six of them
- The Celtics forced 21 turnovers but scored only seven points off of those mistakes.
- Three players (Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Kirk Hinrich) fouled out of the game.
- Sullinger grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds off of the bench.
- The Celtics finished with only 10 assists.
Quote of the Night
I thought he kind of surveyed the game and thought, 'I have to go get this for us.' Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo's 30-point performance