Celtics hold on, beat Bulls, 95-91

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Celtics hold on, beat Bulls, 95-91

BOSTON When Rajon Rondo is in full-blown attack mode, the Boston Celtics are tough to beat.

Facing the C's without your best player only made Rondo's chances - and the Celtics, for that matter - much easier to come by.

A fast start and a solid finish was just what the Celtics needed to escape with a 95-91 win over the Bulls.

Rondo, who struggled mightily in Boston's loss at Toronto, responded with arguably his best all-around game this season. He was in triple-double range down the stretch before finishing with a season-high 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.

The Bulls were once again short-handed with reigning league MVP Derrick Rose out for the second straight game with a back injury.

Boston wasn't at full strength, either. The left shoulder injury that kept Jermaine O'Neal out at Toronto last week, once again prevented him from playing. And Brandon Bass' left knee had more swelling in it. According to coach Doc Rivers, Bass will be out for at least seven games.

That created an opportunity for Chris Wilcox to start. He responded well, finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

And off the bench, JaJuan Johnson made the most of his added minutes. He had 12 points and 4 rebounds.

Boston's control of the game was very much in doubt in the game's final minutes.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth, the Bulls cut Boston's lead to three, 89-86, following a free throw by Luol Deng with 1:43 to play. But moments later, Paul Pierce responded with a 15-footer to make it a two-possession game.

Chicago continued to march on.

A pair of free throws by Deng cut the lead back to three. A Celtics turnover gave it back to Chicago, with a chance to tie. However, C.J. Watson's driving lay-up attempt was off, and was rebounded by Kevin Garnett.

The Celtics did their part to keep the fans on their feet, as Pierce made an errant pass that was stolen by Carlos Boozer. The Bulls immediately called a time-out with 27.6 seconds to play.

With the amount of time remaining and it being a 3-point game, there was little doubt the Bulls would be looking for the long ball.

That's exactly what they did, but Watson's 3-point attempt barely grazed the rim.

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

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Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.