The Chicago Bulls defeated the Celtics, 119-103, Friday night at the TD Garden (Box Score Here).
The Celtics played well offensively through three quarters, shooting 52 percent from the field, but were unable to sustain the effort for the entire game. The veteran Bulls played a complete 48 minutes and pulled away during the final frame, outscoring the inexperienced Celtics, 31-17. Boston only managed to force 7 turnovers, while Chicago made 13 of their 25 three point attempts.
Star point guard Derrick Rose led the way for the Bulls, with an exceptional third quarter in which he had six assists to go along with nine points. He finished with 29 points and 10 assists, notching his second double-double of the year.
SULLINGER FLU GAME
The seasonal flu ripped though the entire Celtics organization. CSNNE play-by-play commentator Mike Gorman was forced to miss the game against the Pelicans. Friday, James Young was sent home sick and may be delayed in joining the team for their upcoming West Coast road trip. Only nine players participated at practice on Thursday. Jared Sullinger, battling flu-like symptoms, played 28 minutes, scoring 20 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
HAND INJURY DOESN’T EFFECT TURNER
Evan Turner, after injuring his right thumb in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, played with a heavy bandage on the thumb. Turner, who normally excels when playing in Chicago, did a bit of everything while starting at point guard, scoring 11 points, dishing out eight assists, and grabbing six rebounds.
JIMMY BUTLER IS A STUD
Butler is in the midst of a breakout season that will likely earn him a max contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Butler is leading the league in minutes played and has evolved into a potent scorer. Each year Butler has been in the league, he has increased his average points per game. This year he is scoring 20. 7 ppg, a seven-point jump from last season.
Before the game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted Butler’s remarkable improvement:
“Jimmy might be the most improved guy in the league and is probably an All-Star,” Stevens said.
Friday, Butler did a bit of everything in his 39 minutes for the Bulls. In addition to dropping 22points, he dominated defensively, snatching up a career-high six steals. If the Bulls make a deep run in the playoffs, it will likely be on the back of Butler.
CELTICS COULDN’T GUARD BULLS FRONTLINE
Even with starting Joakim Noah inactive, the Celtics struggled to defend the frontline of the Bulls. Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, and rookie Nikola Mirotic combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds. The Bulls had 48 points in the paint
TEAM OFFENSE IMPRESSES EARLY
In what has seemingly become a theme of their better performances, the Celtics shared the ball extremely well. Five different players scored in double figures, The majority of their points came off of smart passes in the pick-and-roll. Turner, Smart, and Bradley did an excellent job distributing the ball to rolling bigs, as the point guard trio combined for 17 assists. Despite their early success, the Celtics only managed to score 17 points in the forth quarter, going 8 for 20 from the field.