If the Bulls have any pride, which you could dispute after what was a 48-minute annihilation at the hands of the Celtics, they’re probably thrilled that the C’s scratched Kyrie Irving (soreness in his left knee) from Monday’s 105-89 final.
If only because no team needs that kind of embarrassment on their home court.
When the Bulls (miraculously) brought themselves within two points of Boston midway through the first quarter, the Celtics responded by rattling off the game’s next 19 points, and at one point extended their first-quarter lead to a staggering 21 points.
By halftime, the Green edge was out to 26.
The Celtics dominated this opening 24 by shooting an impressive 23-of-44 (52.3 field goal percentage), and holding Chicago to just 29 points, with just five combined points between the duo of Bobby Portis and Lauri Markkanen (2-for-8 shooting).
“We were ready to play,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said. “Our defense was good in the first half. We were really flying around for one another and playing the right way.”
The Celtics continued their beatdown in the second half, scoring 31 points in the third quarter and at one point holding a 37-point lead. A rest-them-all fourth quarter and score effects finally let Chicago find some dignity, with 36 fourth-quarter points.
Jaylen Brown led all C’s scorers with 21 points on a 9-of-13 shooting night, while Jayson Tatum totaled 14 points and five rebounds in an economical 19 minutes.
Al Horford, heavily criticized after a disappointing effort in a loss to the Rockets last Saturday, dominated Markkanen in their head-to-head, and finished the night with 13 points, seven rebounds, and a game-high plus-31 in 22 minutes of action.
And Shane Larkin, who got the start in place of the resting Irving, collected all nine of his points with a perfect 3-for-3 mark from behind the arc. The 25-year-old Larkin, successfully finding a way to outshine the more starter-friendly Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier on the night, also added four assists, two steals, and four rebounds.
This was your classic ‘everybody chips in’ kind of win for the Celtics, and made this game a blowout from the onset. This was not the case the last time Kyrie watched a Bulls-Celtics game from the sidelines, of course, which came back on Dec. 11.
In fact, every Celtic except Semi Ojeleye finished the night with at least three points.
With the victory, the Celtics have now rattled off wins in five of their seven Irving-less games this season, including wins in the last four games No. 11 has missed.
The Celtics will take on the T’Wolves this Thursday night.
Full article @ Celtics 105, Bulls 89: No Kyrie needed in blowout victory
Source: GreenStreet Blog