C's again falter late in 107-102 loss to Bulls

C's again falter late in 107-102 loss to Bulls
March 30, 2014, 9:45 pm
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BOSTON - The Bulls are a team that seemed to get better once it lost its best players.

The Celtics are a team that, despite not having a ton of talent, won't roll over in games.

Thus, Sunday night's game was an extremely close one.

Unfortunately for the C's, they once again found themselves on the wrong side of it. Boston lost, 107-102.

How close was it? Well, each of the first three quarters ended with either the Celtics or Bulls leading by one point. On top of that, no team held a lead greater than five points at any time during those first three quarters and over seven minutes into the fourth quarter.

There were no huge runs. Momentum wasn't swung in a major way in either direction. It was two teams that went hard at each other at every possession.

Still, one team had to pull away in the end, and it was the Bulls . . . barely.

The Celtics took a one-point lead, 84-83, on a Brandon Bass basket with 8:22 to go in the game. It wouldn't hold up. Chicago went on to score seven straight and open up their biggest lead of the game.

As you might expect, that didn't hold up either.

Rajon Rondo answered immediately with a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. Taj Gibson and the Bulls got it back to five points before Jeff Green hit a 3-pointer.

Joakim Noah would get to the line on the ensuing possession, where he hit one of two, and again it was Green who drained another 3-pointer to tie the score at 96-96.

The C's had a chance to take the lead too, but Bass' jumper was off.

That's when D.J. Augustine -- the Bulls' hero off the bench on Sunday -- scored his 27th, 28th, and 29th points less than 20 seconds later.

This time -- and really, for the first time all night -- the Celtics had no answer. Kelly Olynyk's inbounds pass out of a timeout was picked off by Jimmy Butler, and after both the Bulls and Celtics missed their next opportunities to score, a Rondo offensive foul put Augustine back at the stripe to make it a five-point game.

Augustine finished with a game-high 33 points on 10-for-14 shooting in 31 minutes.

Jared Sullinger his a pair of desperation 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds to keep the C's within reach, but they never got close enough for a one-possession game with the ball.

As he has been for pretty much all of the season, Joakim Noah was the Bulls' do-it-all Sunday night. The big man (who basically plays like a 6-foot-11 point guard at times) finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 13 assists. He hit a big free throw with 12 seconds left in the game to turn a three-point lead into a four-point lead.

Jerryd Bayless (12 points) and Sullinger (16 points) provided Boston's bench offense. Bayless once again proved that he could provide the instant offense the C's need from their guard spot off the bench.

Rondo led all Celtics scorers with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also notched 11 assists. Rondo logged 38 minutes for the Celtics, and will not play Monday night in Chicago due to the fact he will not play on the second night of back-to-backs this season while he fully recovers from a torn ACL.

Green scored 10 points in the first quarter, but didn't score again until late in the fourth quarter when he hit two three-pointers. He finished 6-for-17 from the field.

It was also an off shooting night for Avery Bradley, who couldn't get anything going from the start. Bradley started 1-for-7 from the field early on in the second quarter, and finished with eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.

The Celtics actually hit more field goals than the Bulls as they went 40-for-87 (46-percent) from the field compared to the Bulls 37-for-70 (52.9-percent).

Chicago made up for it at the free throw line, as Boston went 12-for-16 from the line to Chicago's 25-for-31.