Thursday, February 16, 2012
If You Like Basketball, You Have To Respect The Chicago Bulls
I have to give props to the Chicago Bulls, they are one solid NBA team.
After losing 95-91 at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon (Rajon Rondo's monster triple-double being the main reason), Chicago returned the favor to Boston by winning 89-80 tonight at the United Center.
The Bulls (25-7) improved to 11-1 at home while the Celtics (15-14) fell closer to the .500 mark. Boston began its five game road trip with a thud since predictably, they didn't have their legs after their pathetic loss to the Pistons last night. The Celts are 4-6 on the road.
Despite having the reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls are about much more than him. They're long, they play outstanding defense, they're tough, unselfish and smart. Rose sat out against the Celtics again but this time his absence didn't matter since Carlos Boozer (23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), Luol Deng (23 points, 10 assists) and Joakim Noah (15 points, 16 rebounds) all put up double-doubles.
C.J. Watson was the only other Bull in double figures with 11 points while former Celtic Mike James (just signed to a 10-day contract) had eight points off the bench.
Rondo (17 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) was back to his best role: facilitator. It wasn't enough though since only Kevin Garnett (18 points, 10 rebounds) had what could be called a good performance after he sat out against Detroit. Paul Pierce (14 points, 6 of 16 shooting) and Ray Allen (12 points, 4 of 13 shooting) could never get into a rhythm other than Allen's flurry of 3s in the third quarter.
The only other bright spot for the C's was Chris Wilcox (9 points), who is really developing a chemistry with Rondo. They seem to team up on multiple alley oops every game now.
It was a strange contest as the teams went back and forth, playing well or terrible in consecutive frames. Boston led 24-16 after the first but Chicago took a 44-35 halftime lead after a miserable second for the Celtics. The Bulls increased the lead to as much as 16 but the Celts rallied and cut it to 60-59 heading into the fourth. Then they ran out of gas as usual.
A couple statistics jump off the screen: the Bulls hit seven more 3s (10-3), they pulled down 15 more rebounds (52-37 including 10 more offensive boards) and they handed out 12 more assists (27-15) which is wild considering Rose sat. So how did Boston make it somewhat close? Chicago had nine more turnovers (16-7).
These teams close out their four-game regular season series with another TNT Thursday night matchup on April 5. Boston must do everything in their power to avoid the No. 7 or 8 seed since they'll be virtually guaranteed to face the Heat or Bulls, the two Eastern Conference teams they simply cannot beat under any circumstances in a playoff series.
Boston travels to Detroit for a Sunday night game against the Pistons. The Celts will be looking for revenge after their embarrassing 98-88 loss to Detroit last night on their home parquet.