The Celtics once again hung in there against the Bulls for a while, though unlike Sunday it didn't take 33 points from DJ Augustin to make the difference. In fact, both Augustin and Hinrich had pretty awful nights, combining to shoot 1-15 (DJ did have 11 assists) against a Boston team without Rajon Rondo. The Celtics backcourt just looked quicker and more explosive in this game, whether it was an early burst from Jerryd Bayless (10 of his 18 points in the first quarter) or the unexpected contribution from Phil Pressey (9 points, 3 assists and 4 steals).
But while that edge helped Boston withstand a couple Bulls runs and went into the 3rd quarter with the game relatively even, the Bulls frontcourt asserted their dominance with a 17-2 run to begin the 4th. It is not a coincidence this happened with a Noah-Gibson front line to start that quarter, and the Bulls were actually -12 in the nine minutes Noah was off the floor. He finished with 19 points (10 in the 4th), 11 rebounds, and 5 assists, numbers that are becoming routine. Taj shot 6-9 (including 4 dunks/layups) with 14 points. Even Boozer chipped in (and looked aggressive) during his usual (non-4th quarter) time with 16 points, though he was more than matched by a similar opponent in Brandon Bass (18 points).
The other key for the Bulls was how well they ran the floor both offensively and defensively. Turnovers abounded in this one, and Mike Dunleavy was a big beneficiary ether when made it to the rim or when pulling up in transition for a couple of 3-pointers. Dunleavy hit the only Bulls 3s of the night (3-6, rest of team 0-10) and finished with 22 points. Jimmy Butler may have missed his 3 point attempts but was 6-7 from midrange and had 18 as well. He was also key in the Bulls transition defense, which always does a good job at not giving up on plays. There were times when their own poor offense threatened to see this game slip away from them (the Celtics did get the lead to 9 in the 2nd quarter) but Butler and others made a few extra efforts that saved them from giving up too many fast break points.
Any other bleeding was usually permanently stopped when Noah was re-inserted back in the game. He and the Bulls held the Celtics to 10 points in the 4th, on 20% shooting.