Bulls fall to Celtics 108-97

And then there was, perhaps, one. That would be games left in the Bulls season if they cannot win Friday in the United Center.

That’s because the Bulls Wednesday lost 108-97 to the Boston Celtics. Boston now leads the first round playoff series 3-2. If the Bulls can win Friday, there will be a Game 7 in Boston Sunday afternoon.

The teams traded leads and shots for three tough quarters, 15 lead changes and 10 ties through three-quarters. But the Celtics with the home crowd in full throat took advantage of a mistake-prone stretch of Bulls turnovers midway in the fourth quarter for a 13-0 run that was the difference. The Bulls had six of their 16 turnovers in the fourth quarter. Boston scored 23 points off the Bulls turnovers. Boston also had a surprising 15-4 edge in second chance points.

Dwyane Wade was big for the Bulls with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez had 14 points each and Isaiah Canaan had 13 points. The Celtics got 24 points each from Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley and 21 points from Al Horford.

Despite an eruption of media reports that Rajon Rondo might/could/would play in Game 5, Rondo made clear before the game it wasn’t true even as he took shots at practice. “I got an X-ray yesterday and it’s same results. My alignment is off,” Rondo said. The thumb is still the same. It’s still broke. I knew last week it wasn’t going to be fixed in a week. My finger is broken. I don’t know if people misunderstood what the cast was for: I had a torn ligament in my wrist so that was the purpose of the cast. My thumb and my cast were two different things.” The Bulls sped up their game, playing faster to start and more physical against the Celtics, especially Thomas. Wade got into the game more quickly with a three and seven early points as the Bulls took a 14-6 lead. The Celtics missed their first eight three-pointers. But they eased back within 18-15 with 2:24 left in the first quarter on a Marcus Smart three after a Thomas drive and pitch out. The Celtics attempting a dozen threes in the first quarter got late threes from Kelly Olynyk and Bradley to take a 23-20 lead after one-quarter. The Celtics eased ahead 29-23 early in the second quarter as the rotation roulette continued for the Bulls with Anthony Morrow making an appearance and making a pair of jumpers to get the Bulls back tied at 31. The Bulls pretty much abandoned the backup point guards with Paul Zipser carrying the ball up to deliver to Butler or Wade. The Bulls also did better forcing the ball out of Thomas’ hands. The Celtics continued to fire off threes and were five for 22 late in the second quarter as the Bulls moved ahead 46-45 on a pair of Butler scores. The Celtics finished the first half six of 25 on threes with a 52-50 lead. Wade led the Bulls with 11 points in his best half of the series.

Wade continued his quest playing point guard to open the second half with Canaan off the ball. The Bulls also finally began going inside to Lopez, though Boston matched the scores with Thomas getting some momentum toward the basket. Boston went ahead 61-56, and then the Bulls came back behind Wade for a 66-65 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter. Bradley continued to excel for the Celtics, taking advantage of Butler’s help defense as Boston with an Horford three took a 75-73 lead with 1:54 left in the third. With the lead teetering back and forth and up and down, Butler made a fadeaway three at the third quarter buzzer to give the Bulls an 81-79 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls took an 85-84 lead early in the fourth quarter on a pair of Wade to Cristiano Felicio plays. But the Bulls without a turnover in the third quarter appeared to fall victim to Celtics’ pressure and the frenzied crowd. They committed turnovers in four of the next five possessions to fall behind 91-85 before Canaan delivered a driving score at the shot clock buzzer. With 5:54 left, Boston led 94-89. Wade and Lopez were assessed technical on foul calls and the Celtics then extended their lead out to 104-89 with 4:12 left on a 13-0 run before Wade stopped it with a pair of free throws.