On Wednesday night the Chicago Bulls visited the Garden to face the Celtics in their last game before the All-Star break. Last time these two teams met the Celtics were stunned by a Marco Belinelli buzzer beating shot. Coming into the night the Celtics looked to bounce back from their loss Monday against the Bobcats. The Bulls like the Celtics are best known for their suffocating defense. As expected it was the theme of the night with the Celtics narrowly edging the Bulls by shooting 36.8% to 36.5%.
The Celtics also came away winning the turnover battle forcing 20 to their 10. After a season low 8 point performance in the third the Celtics bounced back and scored 28 points in the fourth quarter good for more than second and third quarters combined. With a win on the night the Celtics would move to 28-24 on the season, a respectable record after a crazy first half of the year. In a grind out game the Celtics battled hard and played solid in the closing minutes. With seconds left in the game Belinelli once again looked to beat the buzzer but this time the team was ready as Jason Terry blocked the desperation shot sealing the victory 71-69.
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: Kevin Garnett #5 and Jason Terry #4 of the Boston Celtics celebrate after a foul against the Chicago Bulls during the game on February 13, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Of the starters, Brandon Bass played the most minutes with 40, had a game high 14 points on 6-13 shooting and 9 rebounds. Kevin Garnett had arguably the best night overall with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also made the biggest defensive stop of the night forcing a turnover by diving for the lose ball and securing it with Bass.
Paul Pierce had a very poor night shooting the ball just 2-12 but finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. While he has been inconsistent with his scoring in recent games "The Truth" always manages to influence a game one way or another. In typical clutch fashion Pierce hit a big three pointer with three minutes left to put the Celtics up by five. This proved to be the difference maker in the game as the C's were able to hold on and get the narrow victory.
The Bulls just like the Celtics had a rough offensive outing. They were led by who else but Marco Belinelli finishing with 12 points on 4-9 shooting. The Celtics did a great job of forcing tough shots especially behind the arc as the Bulls shot just 3-17 good for 17.6% on the night.
Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green (8) drives to the basket through the defense of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22), center Joakim Noah (13) and forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
I must say I was very impressed by the Bulls young forward Jimmy Butler. Butler was all over the court tonight on both the offensive and defensive end. He like almost everyone tonight struggled shooting the ball but finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes. If he can continue to produce at that rate he may flourish into a tremendous talent that will work great with Derrick Rose in the future.
The Celtics bench was led by Jason Terry who had another solid outing. He was good for 12 points and 3 assists on the night while having the game sealing block in the final seconds. Doc opted to sub in Avery Bradley for most of the closing defensive possessions but was unable to in the final seconds as Bradley fouled out. Oddly enough just like in their game Sunday, Terry came up with the defensive stop as time expired. It'll be interesting to see if after these two games Doc will have more confidence in Terry on the defensive end.
The Celtics have a nice long break with All-Star weekend. They will look to resume play next Tuesday, 2/19 on the road in a rematch with the Nuggets in Denver. Coming out of the break the Celtics have a tough five game west coast road schedule and won't return home until March. We'll also wait in anticipation of what Danny Ainge will do with the trade deadline steadily approaching February 21st.