The Boston Celtics didn’t play their best game on Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls, making the kind of mistakes you expect just before the all-star break.
But their 104-103 loss at Chicago left a truly bitter taste in the Celtics’ mouth and it wasn’t just because of their four-game winning streak being snapped.
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- Controversial call on Smart proves costly in Celtics 104-103 loss to Bulls
It had more to do with the questionable call against Marcus Smart defending Jimmy Butler, a play in which official Zach Zarba called a foul with 0.9 seconds to play.
“Horrible call,” Isaiah Thomas told reporters after the loss. “Bad call cost us a game, cost us a game. That’s horrible.
Thomas added, “You see him raise his hand up like it was a foul; the Bulls were even shocked. That’s horrible man. It cost you a game you should have won. That’s a bad call.”
Replays showed that the contact Smart was whistled for came with 1.0 to 1.2 seconds to play.
But the call from Zarba came with less than a tenth of a second to play, a call made that wasn't made until Butler’s shot attempt clearly going to come up short.
“When Jimmy shot the ball, I heard him scream, ‘no foul?’” Smart told reporters. “As soon as he said that, the whistle blew and I looked and I saw him (Zarba) raise his hands. I couldn’t believe it. He made the call. You gotta live with it.”
Said Kelly Olynyk: “We thought we won the game. A roller coaster of emotions; it’s tough.”
As disappointed as they are with the loss, the Celtics know there’s nothing they can do about it other than use it as added motivation going forward to play better throughout the course of the game so that the outcome doesn’t come down to possibly being decided in such a questionable manner.
“It’s part of it; you move forward,” Celtics’ Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “I thought we played a pretty good game. All things considered, being six (games) in nine (days) I was proud of the way we competed. I’m not going to let that (questionable call), de-rail that. I feel good about our team and I feel good about the direction we’re headed.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in tonight’s game against Chicago.
Regardless of the questionable call in the final second of play, Butler still had to make the game-winning free throws to get the win. He finished with 29 points and seven assists.
He finished with 29 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. He also had seven assists with three rebounds.
His activity around the rim was huge for the Bulls, as he finished with 15 points and eight rebounds with two blocked shots.
He continues to give the Celtics a nice lift off the bench. He had 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting against the Bulls, in addition to seven rebounds and four assists.
The Celtics had problems most of the game keeping Portis in check. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting with eight rebounds.
Rough, rough night for Horford against the Bulls. He had just seven points while missing seven of his 10 shot attempts which included a potential game-winner as the final horn sounded. Just as bad, he was a non-factor on the boards which is where Boston desperately needed him to step up and help.
Celtics defensive rebounding
Boston’s inability to keep the Bulls off the offensive glass was a huge factor in the game’s outcome. The Bulls’ control of the offensive boards resulted in a 22-4 advantage on second-chance points.