Hinrich Leads Bulls Over Visiting Celtics
Chicago 100, Boston 94
CHICAGO, April 1 (Ticker) -- Kirk Hinrich turned up the heat in the second half.
Hinrich scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half and Andres Nocioni had 12 and 11 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls rallied for a 100-94 triumph over the Boston Celtics.
"We have an opportunity we just have to take care of business," said Hinrich, who made 9-of-18 shots. "We feel fortunate that we have the team right in front of us twice, but we can't look ahead."
Boston (30-43) fell four games back with nine contests left.
"Even with the win it would have been tight," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "But everytime we think we are out Philadelphia pulls us right back in, like the mob. But most likely we are out of it."
With the game tied at 74-74 after three quarters, the Celtics opened the final period on a 12-5 surge. Paul Pierce, who scored 18 points, hit a fadeaway jumper and rookie Ryan Gomes converted a layup with 6 1/2 minutes left for an 86-79 lead.
"I thought for the most part we played well," said Pierce, who shot just 4-of-17. "In the end they made the plays, Hinrich stepped up and made some big shots. Our defense we played there was good, I'd take that any night."
However, the Bulls responded behind the duo of Hinrich and Luol Deng as they combined to score 10 points during a 12-0 surge over a two-minute span.
"At that point we got some stops," Hinrich said. "In the first half especially we were out hustled, but right there we just picked up our play."
"We were lucky to comeback and win this game," said Deng, who scored 14 points. "We didn't play to well all night but we didn't give up, especially in the last seven minutes."
The Celtics had a chance to tie the game, but Tony Allen was called for charging after scoring on a fast-break layup with 75 seconds remaining.
"That was the only play I had," Hinrich said. "I had to take the hit and I was lucky that it was called a charge."
"The guy was not there, maybe his feet were planted but he was not standing straight up," said Boston forward Wally Szczerbiak, who scored 28 points. "Any time you are leaning back you are not taking a charge. You are not entitled to that space, Tony just took the ball to the hoop, it was a tough call."
Nocioni's two free throws 13 seconds later gave Chicago a 96-92 edge. After trading baskets, Boston tried to make it a one-possession game but Pierce misfired on a 3-point attempt and Nocioni sealed the win by knocking down two more foul shots.
"I missed a few wide open shots that I normally make," said Pierce, who went 0-of-4 from 3-point range. "That's just the breaks of the game, they do a great job of loading up when I get the ball."
Mike Sweetney and Ben Gordon scored 14 points each for the Bulls, who shot 38 percent (29-of-76) from the field and had five players score in double figures.
"After it got to seven points our guys just hung in there," said Chicago coach Scott Skiles, whose team completed the season swept. "Our guys were fatigued after last night's game, so I'm really proud of how they all battled."
Allen scored 10 points off the bench and Pierce had nine assists and seven rebounds for Boston, which shot 42 percent (35-of-83) but made just 3-of-19 from the arc.
"It was just back and forth game," said Szczerbiak, who made 12-of-18 shots. "It was a tough loss for us, and I thought they really got the benefit at the free throw line."