The Boston Celtics entered Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls having trouble holding onto leads that they have built over the course of the past few weeks.
Tonight, that notion wasn’t tested much at all.
The Bulls took a one-point lead into the halftime break, then pulled away in the third and fourth quarter to beat the Celtics 94-82 at the United Center in Chicago. Boston never had a lead in the second half, as the Bulls starting frontcourt was simply too much to handle.
Center Joakim Noah finished just one assist shy of a triple-double, as he led the Bulls with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Carlos Boozer added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Luol Deng had 14 points.
Noah had a chance with only seconds remaining to claim the triple-double, as he dished off a pass to Jimmy Butler on the far side. Butler quickly released the jump shot as he faded away, but it just rimmed out.
“We recognized that kind of late, no disrespect for the Celtics. We just really wanted to get him that triple-double,” Deng said after the game.
Mike Dunleavy had 11 points, including eight in the second half. Dunleavy blocked Kris Humphries shot, then grabbed an offensive rebound at the other end and hit a jumper as time ran out in the third period. That momentum carried into the fourth, as Chicago built a lead too insurmountable for the young C’s to recover from.
Jordan Crawford led the Celtics with 22 points and seven assists, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each had 11, but shot a combined 10-of-30.
Kelly Olynyk only played eight minutes tonight, only a game after his career-high 21 points off of the bench on Tuesday.
With the loss the Celtics fall to 13-19 on the season. They are back in action on Friday at home against the New Orleans Pelicans, then head on a brutal five game West-Coast trip against some of the best competition in the league.