Bulls down Celtics in OT slugfest

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Bulls down Celtics in OT slugfest

BOSTON Rajon Rondo. National TV. The Chicago Bulls.

All the recipes for a big night from the recently-named all-star starter.

And Rondo, true to form, didn't disappoint with a season-high 30 points to go with seven assists.

But the best of Rondo wasn't good enough to get the victory as the Celtics suffer a 100-99 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls with Carlos Boozer (19 points, 20 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14 points, 13 rebounds) leading the way.

Chicago's Marco Belinelli drilled a 14-foot fadeaway jumper with 3.1 seconds to play in overtime for the game-winning basket. Boston quickly in-bounded the ball to Courtney Lee, who dribbled up court and launched a 3-pointer that he unsuccessfully tried to bank in as time expired.

In addition to getting a big game from Rondo who fouled out with 1:16 to play in overtime, Boston also got a strong game from Jared Sullinger who had seven points and 15 rebounds before he too joined Rondo on the bench after picking up his sixth personal foul with 50 seconds to play.

Making Friday's win even tougher to swallow was that the C's made a slew of defensive stops in the fourth despite playing the entire game without their best defender Avery Bradley who was out with a rib injury.

Boston did not take its first lead of the night until Rondo made a free throw with 4:37 to play in regulation that gave the C's an 80-79 lead.

The two teams went back and fourth until Kevin Garnett made a pair of free throws with 20.1 seconds to play in regulation that gave the C's an 88-85 lead in the fourth.

After Chicago's Kirk Hinrich made a free throw to make it an 88-86 game, the Celtics called a time-out.

Out of the time-out, Bulls center Joakim Noah forced a jump ball between himself and Paul Pierce with 9.4 seconds to play

Noah won the jump ball, and after a mild scramble at the other end of the floor, Hinrich hit the game-tying jumper with two seconds to play.

Garnett's off-balance jumper was well off the mark as time expired in regulation.

C's guard Leandro Barbosa got his second start of the season in place of Bradley who was out because of a rib injury suffered in Boston's 90-78 loss to New Orleans on Wednesday.

And it didn't take long for the Bulls to take advantage of the Celtics playing without Bradley, their best perimeter defender.

Chicago guard Richard Hamilton, the player Bradley would have opened the game guarding, didn't waste much time going to work against Barbosa who is at least five inches shorter.

Hamilton's ability to operate in the post against the smaller Barbosa allowed the Bulls to control the action most of the night. Hamilton finished with 20 points.

In addition to that, not having Bradley meant that the C's were without their best on-the-ball-defender whose ability to pressure guards the length of the floor takes time off the shot clock and even more important, pressure off the C's defense.

On Friday, Chicago's guards brought the ball up court with little to no pressure all game.

Even without Bradley, the Celtics managed to stay within striking distance most of the night.

Boston fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first quarter before cutting Chicago's lead to 23-19.

A 4-0 spurt to start the quarter tied things up, but the Bulls - as they did all night - responded with a 13-4 scoring binge of their own to regain control.

Later in the game, a jumper by Brandon Bass cut Chicago's lead to 58-56. Bulls forward Carlos Boozer turned it over which gave Boston a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

However, a cross-court pass to Pierce from Rondo bounced off Pierce's knees and went out of bounds.

On the ensuing possession, Noah scored on a lay-up and the Celtics spent the bulk of the third quarter trying to cut into a multiple-possession deficit.

Boston continued to scrap in the fourth, even cutting it to 70-68 with a Garnett jumper, at the 10:06 mark.

Bulls head coach and former C's assistant Tom Thibodeau did the same thing he did whenever the Celtics seemed to be tilting the game's momentum towards the home team - he called a time-out.

And just about every time he did so, the Bulls would respond with a positive play to re-establish their control of the game.

Belinelli scored on a driving lay-up, only for Jared Sullinger making a it a two-point game (72-70) on a lay-up.

Once again, the C's positioned themselves to tie the game or take the lead, but Rajon Rondo's shot attempt over former Celtic Nate Robinson was off the mark.

And the Bulls capitalized on Boston's lost opportunity as Robinson drew a foul and made both free throws to push the C's lead back to four points (74-70).

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.