Celtics drop third straight as Bulls run over them


Celtics drop third straight as Bulls run over them

CHICAGO And so the good-try, good-effort days continue for the Boston Celtics who once again can take away a few positives from their game against Chicago.

But the one positive that trumps them all - winning - remains as elusive now as it ever was for Boston as the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter on Tuesday for a 100-89 win.

Rajon Rondo led all scorers with 26 points to go with eight assists. Chicago's Joakim Noah had a triple-double of 11 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each had 21 points.

Boston (12-12) has now dropped three straight for the first time this season, and run the risk of slipping below .500 for the first time since they were 2-3 following a Nov. 9 home loss to Philadelphia.

The sad part about Tuesday's loss was that it came against a Chicago team that had played - and lost - the night before in Memphis while the Celtics have been in Chicago preparing for this game since Sunday.

You would not have known that by the way the game played out.

For most of the night, the Bulls seemed fresher, more sure of their play compared to the Celtics who too often looked indecisive, unsure and just flat-out bad.

The game quickly became a laugher in the fourth quarter with several Chicago players having their way which included former Celtic Nate Robinson who had 18 points off the bench.

The first quarter was actually a relatively close period with neither team being able to get more than five points of separation.

It was an early back-and-forth tussle with there being six lead changes before the first quarter ended with the Bulls on top, 28-23.

The second quarter saw the Bulls' control of the game only increase as their lead peaked at 13 points.

Boston's problems in the second were no different than their problems most of this season - defense.

The Celtics do a lot more trapping and double-teaming with their defense than they have in past years. The only way that can work effectively is if players rotate to shooters quick enough to avoid them having open looks.

It is that latter point that has given the C's problems throughout this season.

And the person most impacted by the porous team defense is Kevin Garnett, who in addition to having his hands full defending one of the Bulls' potent 1-2 frontcourt punch of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, was frequently out of position because he had to help defensively when one of the Celtics' perimeter players allowed dribble penetration into the lane.

So the big first-half numbers by Boozer (12 points, 4 rebounds) and Noah (7 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists) had more to do with Garnett's teammates struggling defensively than they did with his own individual man-to-man defense.

But as poorly as the Celtics played defensively, they still went into the half within striking distance and Rondo was a big reason why.

Rondo, whom Doc Rivers said before the game had been trying to do too much lately, did plenty to keep the Celtics from getting blown out in the first half.

The Celtics closed out the second with a 7-2 spurt that included five points from Rondo to cut Chicago's lead at the half down to 55-48.

But his strong scoring spurt, like most of the what the Celtics did, was not enough of a positive to achieve the only thing that really matters around Boston and that's win games - something this team continues to struggle with doing.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

0:41 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and DJ Bean discuss the Celtics 16-game winning streak being snapped by the Miami Heat.

6:05 - Tom Curran and Mike Giardi talk about Tom Brady missing practice due to an Achilles injury and Randy Moss’ chances to make the Hall of Fame.

11:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the mental and physical fatigue that the streak had on the Celtics and if there is a sense of relief that the streak is over.  

16:11 - With it being the 5th anniversary of the Butt Fumble, we compare it to other embarrassing sports moments in history. 

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

When you reflect upon Boston’s 16-game winning streak which came to an end with Miami’s 104-98 win on Wednesday, there were moments in just about every game that played a major factor in their success.

So it was only fitting that in the Miami loss, it would be a whole lot of little things that ultimately brought the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history to a screeching halt.

  • Al Horford missed a pair of free throws.
  • Marcus Smart split a pair that had he made both, would have tied the game up in the fourth quarter.
  • Jayson Tatum had his only turnover of the game, in the fourth.
  • Terry Rozier had a rebound that he could not corral and bounced off his hands out of bounds.

And that doesn’t even factor in the missed open shots and unforced turnovers that collectively played a major role in Boston’s winning streak being a thing of the past now.

“I turned it over, we missed some free throws . . . we had some unfortunate things happen,” Tatum told reporters following the loss.


Even with the loss, the Celtics (16-3) still boast the best record in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving has elevated his all-around play to a level to where he’s legitimately in the conversation as a league MVP candidate.

Jayson Tatum has established himself as one of the league’s top rookies from his draft class.

“As you could see, they kept hitting us, hitting us, until we were knocked out,” Irving said. “They deserved that win tonight.”

Disappointed with the loss, but it was not at all surprising to head coach Brad Stevens who has been raising concerns about his team’s attention to detail for the past few games and sensed it would catch up to them sooner or later.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said. “But we do have a lot of resolve. I can’t say enough about our guy’s will to come back. It’s incredible we were able to erase that lead that quickly and give ourselves a chance.”

Indeed, the Celtics rallied from a double-digit deficit to come within a single point in the fourth quarter. But unlike previous games, Boston couldn’t find a path to victory.

“We’re just going to continue to learn and continue to get better,” Irving said. “It’s the same things echoed when we were winning. Just continue to get better and understand, there’s still a lot for us to accomplish going forward.

He added, “It was a good streak, and it’s finally come to an end.”