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.