Celtics hang on to pin first loss on Bulls
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[November 03, 2016]
BOSTON -- The Celtics were
missing two starters, and they blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead
at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
However, Boston turned up the defense, shut Chicago out for the
final 1:57 and escaped with a 107-100 victory over the previously
"We got a lot of good players that can step in at any time," Celtics
guard Isaiah Thomas said after Boston earned its third win in the
first four games of the season. "I think that's our strength, our
depth, and we're just going to keep going."
The Celtics came in without Al Horford, sidelined due to a
concussion, and they lost Jae Crowder to a sprained ankle in the
second quarter. Throw in Kelly Olynyk still out following shoulder
surgery, and the roster was shortened.
And while the Bulls were also missing Michael Carter-Williams and
Doug McDermott, Chicago came back. All the way back to tie it at 100
with 1:57 to go -- but the Bulls (3-1) didn't score again.
"That was a good win," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who called
his team's injuries, "a great opportunity for everybody else."
The Bulls used a late 6-0 run to tie it. One free throw by Amir
Johnson and -- after Chicago's Nikola Mirotic missed two free throws
with 1:36 left -- a circus drive by Thomas gave Boston a three-point
After former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo shot as airball on one end
for the Bulls, Boston used an Avery Bradley offensive rebound and a
runner by Marcus Smart (playing his first game after missing three
with a sprained ankle) to put the game away.
Johnson, a veteran who makes his living near the basket, hit his
first four 3-pointers of the season in a 16-point third quarter that
seemingly put Boston in control. He finished with 23 points and six
"I was going crazy," Smart said of watching Johnson go off.
"Whatever he ate or drank last night, whatever he did, I want some
Johnson was 0-for-1 from 3-point range in the first three games of
the season and had made 58 treys in his 12-year career before
Thomas finished with 23 points and 10 assists. Bradley had 13
points, five rebounds and four assists.
Tyler Zeller, starting for Horford, scored the first five points of
the fourth quarter to give Boston its 16-point lead with 10:42 left.
He had 11 points, and the Celtics went small when he was off the
Jimmy Butler, who led the Chicago charge, finished with 23 points
and nine rebounds. Mirotic added 17 points and Dwyane Wade 15.
"There's not too many tougher places to play than here on the road,"
Wade said. "I like the way we responded. I've been here before when
they came out and played the same way and we lost -- by a lot."
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Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) drives to the basket during the
first quarter against the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden. Mandatory
Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Rondo, playing his fifth game against his former team, added 12
points, 10 rebounds and five assists but four of his team's 19
"I thought we fought obviously to get back into the game in the
fourth quarter, but I thought overall -- especially for the first
three quarters -- they were the more physical team," Chicago coach
Fred Hoiberg said.
Crowder went to the floor just as Thomas was hitting 3-pointer to
put Boston ahead 50-43. Crowder remained down in pain as play went
down to the other end.
After the whistle, Crowder got up and hopped on his right foot all
the way into the corner and down the tunnel heading toward the
locker room. He was finished after amassing 10 points and five
rebounds in 13 minutes.
"Jae sprained his ankle. That's all I know," Stevens said.
The Celtics, who visit Cleveland on Thursday, were 14 of 32 from
3-point range and committed just 12 turnovers.
"We got a big one tomorrow, and hopefully we can sneak one out in
Cleveland," Thomas said.
NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley, doubtful because of a lingering
right shoulder problem, played after receiving a cortisone shot. ...
The Bulls were missing G Michael Carter-Williams, expected to be out
four to six weeks with a left knee bone bruise after it was feared
he might be lost for his season when he got hurt Monday. ... Bulls F
Doug McDermott, who sustained a concussion Monday, didn't play
Wednesday. ... The Celtics were to fly out after the game for
Cleveland, where they were set to stay in the same hotel as the
Chicago Cubs before playing the Cavaliers on Thursday night. The
Bulls host the New York Knicks on Friday night. ... Bulls coach Fred
Hoiberg before the game: "For the five people who will be watching
our game ..."
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