Bulls roar past Celtics, 89-80

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Bulls roar past Celtics, 89-80

CHICAGO Can't beat the woeful Detroit Pistons at home, but can beat the best team in the East (Chicago) in Boston, and then take them down to the wire less than a week later on their turf?

The Boston Celtics continue their consistently inconsistent ways with yet another good, but not good enough performance in losing 89-80 to the Bulls Thursday night.

For the Celtics (15-14), it's their fourth loss in the last five games which came on the heels of them winning 9 of the previous 10.

After falling behind by as many as 16 points on Thursday, the Celtics fought back and eventually took a brief lead in the fourth quarter.

However, after a Ray Allen jumper tied the game at 69-69, Chicago went on a 12-0 run that proved to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.

Kevin Garnett, who returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip flexor injury, had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

And Allen, who has been in a shooting slump lately, had a strong second half against the Bulls and finished with 12 points.

As for the Bulls, who continue to play without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose (back), Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 15 rebounds while newly-named All-Star Luol Deng had 23 points and 10 assists for the Bulls who came into the game looking to avenge a 4-point loss to Boston earlier this week. The Bulls (25-7) also got huge production from Joakim Noah who had 15 points and 16 rebounds.

The loss continues the kind of trend -- a losing one -- that the C's want no part of.

Unfortunately for them, things won't get any easier anytime soon.

They play at Detroit on Sunday -- the same Pistons team that beat them by 10 points earlier this week -- followed by road games in Dallas and Oklahoma City.

HOT SHOT: Luol Deng was the best all-around player on the floor Thursday night. His 23 points were impressive. But he also tallied 10 assists for his second straight double-double, as he tries to fill the void left by point guard Derrick Rose still being out with a back injury.

"With Derrick out, the ball is in Luol's hands a little more," said Bulls coach and former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau. "Luol is a much better pick-and-roll player than you realize. He has good size, he has vision and he can score on the drive. I like having the ball in his hands."

IN-N-OUT: Paul Pierce got off to a great start and . . . nothing. After making his first three shots, Pierce only made 3 of his next 13 attempts before finishing with 14 points. Pierce's fast start with little afterward, was indicative of the kind of game it was for the Celtics' entire team.

"I thought we got kind of stagnant at times (offensively)," Pierce said. "They made their adjustments."

SUPER SUB: Mike James continues to make the most of every shot he gets to play with the Bulls. Chicago's game-changing run in the second quarter did not begin until James stepped on the floor. He finished with eight points along with playing tough defense on Rajon Rondo.

"I was shocked when Thibodeau called my name," said James, who was recently signed by Chicago to a 10-day contract. "You have to take pride on defense. You have to take pride on being able to stop somebody when you are on the court, understanding that Rajon is a very good basketball player."

The former Celtic, who is 6-foot-2, was determined to not allow Rondo (who is 6-1) to post him up the way he did other Chicago guards.

"I'm not going to let no one smaller than me post up," James said. "I'm not the biggest guard but I have some size on me. Guards have never posted me up and that's not something new that I'm going to start allowing."

TURNING POINT: Leading 84-78 with little more than a minute to play, Luol Deng hit a 3-pointer -- his sixth of the night -- to put the Bulls ahead by nine with 47 seconds left.

BY THE NUMBERS: 52: That would be the number of rebounds Chicago had, compared to 37 for Boston.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They crushed us on the glass all game and that was the big difference."- Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!