Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.
The Celtics (28-24) climbed four games above .500 for the first time all season as four C's reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C's final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.
The Celtics' 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team's lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a single game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a Celtics victory since the inception of the shot clock.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago's five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It's a good thing, because the C's actually shot worse until …
Heart beats: As they've done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C's found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.
Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Offense: The Celtics made eight field goals in the second and third quarters combined. After scoring 24 points and taking a nine-point lead in the opening quarter, the C's made 4-of-18 shots in the second quarter (22.2 FG%) and 4-of-21 attempts in the third (19.0 FG%), scoring 11 and eight points, respectively. Somehow, someway, the Celtics trailed just 49-43 entering the frenetic fourth quarter.
Wayward captain: After a superb stretch of basketball during their recent seven-game winning streak, Paul Pierce battled through his toughest night since Rondo's ACL injury. He started a putrid 1-of-11 from the floor and missed his first two free throw attempts. While he added six assists and six rebounds, it's remarkable the Celtics were in the game at all without their captain's offense. Of course, Pierce managed to deliver another dagger of a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics a 65-60 lead with three minutes remaining.
Without Wilcox: Whether he's still suffering from the injuries that have kept him from playing 20 games this season or simply missing Rondo's alley-oops, Chris Wilcox hasn't been the same since returning from his thumb issue two weeks ago. Outside a few solid stretches against the Heat, Lakers and Bobcats, he's struggled to make a consistent impact. Wilcox played 11 minutes against the Bulls, didn't attempt a shot and recorded as many fouls and turnovers as he did rebounds (2).
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick joins Dale and Steve DeOssie to talk about cutting the roster down to 53 players. Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start and play most, if not all of the preseason contest against the Giants. Bill also expressed his thoughts about the kicking game and how some of the new rules have affected the importance of it.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news that Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start Thursday and play most of the game. They talk about what it might mean for Ryan Mallett.
Julian Edelman joins Christian and Danny Picard to talk about his approach going into the season, his performance this preseason, as well as the VMAs, and preventing cramps using mustard.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Red Sox Manager John Farrell talks about Bogaerts' concussion and the youth movement.
As he does every Wednesday, Buster Olney, ESPN, joins the boys of MFB to talk baseball. This week Buster shed some light on what to expect from Rusney Castillo, and how Cuban players are being viewed. He suggests that the acquisition of Castillo helps Boston's chances to get Giancarlo Stanton. Also, the Sox should shut down Koji if they want to re-sign him.
Kevin Millar checks in to talk about the Castillo signing, Giancarlo Stanton, and the MLB's pace of play.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Times discussed the Logan Mankins deal.
Chris Nowinski discussed the future of Wes Welker.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Buck.
Tim talks about the city of Las Vegas attempting to get an NHL franchise. Lou wards off "huge" bat. Christian winds up in the dog house again, for what happened on MFB yesterday.
After Will Middlebrooks struck out against a position player, Steve Tolleson, last night against Toronto, he seemed to be laughing as he left the batter's box. Lou critiqued Middlebrooks on Twitter, which caused Will's fiance Jenny Dell to tweet (indirectly) in defense of her man.
Red Sox Manager talks about Xander's concussion and the youth movement on the Red Sox.
Josh Gordons suspension was upheld. Why is there such a stigma about weed in sports?
Today we discuss the four most famous Pats players that Bill Belichick surprisingly dealt away.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
How can teams acquire players who are entering their primes without having to live through the potentially massive transition of prospects coming from the minors to the big leagues? The Red Sox have two such case studies. The signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo represents one effort to acquire a player for his prime years for whom the transition to big league-caliber competition might not be turbulent. Red Sox assistant director of player personnel discusses the scouting process involved with landing Castillo. The episode also features Brock Holt, the one rookie who played at a consistently high level for the Red Sox this year. Holt explores some of the distinctions that might help to explain why he did not experience some of the struggles that characterized the seasons of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Rob Bradford is joined by Turtleboy of TurtleboySports.com to discuss which current major leaguers might be in line to become Hall of Famers. The duo dive into the difficulties facing the current crop of big leaguers when trying to reach Hall of Fame status.
Fantasy Football Drafts are now happening every day, so Pete Davidson and Jim Hackett have you covered. This Podcast focuses on the High Value Targets you can get in your drafts if you draft smartly. These players can slip to you and make a great impact on your roster as the season moves on. The draft is won in the middle to late rounds when the best upside players are taken. Jim and Pete give you in depth analysis on the High Value Targets to seek along with the Rookies that can make an impact this year. Jim and Pete will be back this Sunday morning too, on-air at WEEI FM 93.7 with even more. Prepare and enjoy!
Brady joins Dennis and Callahan heading into week four of the preseason. He explains how he exercises his brain to maintain and build brain fitness.More from this show
Tom Curran on Welker's latest concussion.More from this show