The Boston Celtics opened up their third week of play tonight on the road facing the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics were looking for their second win in a row against the Bulls who are without their star, and 2010-2011 League MVP, Derrick Rose. The team did just that in a nail bitter that saw Boston beat Chicago 101-95.
The Celtics opened the game with a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Kevin Garnett. The starters got off to their best start this year firing on all cylinders in the first half. In the first quarter alone the team scored 33 points coming primarily from the Big 3. At the end of the first quarter Pierce and Rondo both had 8 points while KG produced 7. The bench also made a large contribution early starting of 5-6. Rajon Rondo had a huge first half going into the break with a stat line of 10pts, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives on Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Of the starters Rondo played the most minutes at 37 and scored a team high 20 points. He played efficient and aggressive, knocking down numerous jump shots and getting great penetration. Jason Terry got the start at shooting guard and finished with 13 points but struggled from distance shooting just 1-5. Pierce too struggled as the game went on after starting out hot but contributed in other ways finishing with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Of the starters Brandon Bass was the most efficient scorer going 5-6 for 16 points and played great defense overall. KG was his typical self adding 15 points, 5 rebounds, and constantly keeping the team defense in check.
As mentioned previously the bench made a big contribution early on and it looks like we might be coming closer to knowing the rotation off the bench. As seen in recent games, Chris Wilcox was first off the bench coming in for Garnett alongside Jared Sullinger who replaced Brandon Bass. The team seemed to make it a point to get the new substitutions involved early and often. Wilcox's effort continues to be great as he played 19 minutes tonight. Wilcox continues to be active, run the floor, and get easy buckets. He recorded two notable highlight plays and finished with 7 points on 2-2 shooting. This is exactly what we need when KG is out and it seems that Wilcox has certainly settled in his role.
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) shoots over Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Bulls without their star got large contributions across the board with Deng, Boozer, and Noah taking the majority. They started the game with a five of Nate Robinson, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah. Deng, the teams top scorer with Rose, finished with the game high 26 points on 11-20 shooting. The shot 46% from the field to that of Boston's 50.6%. Yet were able to narrowly win the rebound battle 40 to 36 with 8 coming on the offensive end. The Bulls trailed by 14 points at one point in the game but went on a few runs to cut the deficit to 6 and then even 2 points in the final minutes.
With about fifty seconds left in the game Luol Deng stepped to the free throw line and missed both free throws. Brandon Bass failed to secure the defensive rebound and Taj Gibson was able to dish the ball to the trailing Deng who cut it to a two point game with 49.5 seconds. After a Celtics timeout Rajon Rondo ran a perfect play off the inbound, coming off a Pierce screen, he tossed an alley-opp to KG for the finish. Taj Gibson was then fouled on a drive and also missed both free throws. This all but sealed the win for the Celtics. Luckily Rajon Rondo was also able to keep his double digit assists streak alive. His tenth assist came with only 22 seconds left in the game as he found Brandon Bass for a wide open dunk.