The home TNT streak is alive. The Bulls have now won 15 straight regular-season home games on TNT thanks to a victory over the Celtics. The 100-point streak is also alive, as they've now hit the century mark in nine straight games, which is the first time they've done so since 1995. And finally, they've won six consecutive games on the season.
Derrick Rose's resurgence continued with 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and he should've had more points if he actually got any calls. There were several plays where it looked like he got whacked, and one of them led to him getting a technical (Jae Crowder missed the free throw...BALL DON'T LIE). There was one brief moment of concern when cameras caught Rose walking back to the locker room, but it looked like he was just taking a little bathroom break, as he soon returned from the locker room and got on the bike in the tunnel.
Along with Rose, all five starters scored in double figures, as did Tony Snell off the bench. Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler didn't have the greatest of shooting nights, but they both recorded double-doubles. Gasol had 17 points and 18 boards, while Butler had 19 points and 10 assists, making it the second straight game he's gone into double figures in assists. Butler's playmaking has taken a major leap forward in recent weeks as he's taken on more primary ball handling duties (he also extended his steal streak to 42 straight games).
The game didn't get off to the best of beginnings. Despite a strong Rose start, the Celtics jumped out to a six-point lead after one quarter thanks in part to a barrage of jumpers from Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. Butler got off to a rough start, as despite his three assists, he missed all three of his shots and was sloppy with the ball, resulting in several turnovers.
Speaking of sloppy, the start of the second quarter was basically like closing time at (insert your favorite watering hole here). Both teams were throwing the ball all over the place, but Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Zeller were the main culprits. Thomas had a woeful first half (and game in general) both shooting and taking care of the ball wise, while Zeller gave the Bulls multiple extra possessions thanks both to his own terrible hands and Taj Gibson's hustle.
The Celtics actually pushed their lead out to 10 even after some of the Bulls' starters returned, but Nikola Mirotic helped change the dynamic when he came back in for Bobby Portis (who had some nice hustle plays but couldn't buy a jumper all night) and knocked down three jumpers, including two treys, after a terrible first stint.
Probably not coincidentally, this was part of a fun unit that included Rose/Butler/McDermott/Niko/Gasol (OFFENSE! SPACING! HOIBALL!), and it resulted in a big charge to close the half. That unit scored 17 points in a little over four minutes to give the Bulls a one-point lead at halftime.
Chicago took firm control of the game in the third quarter as the pace quickened to its liking. Boston looked very much like a team on a SEGABABA, as it couldn't buy a bucket en route to a 22 percent shooting quarter. Gasol nearly notched a double-double in the frame alone (eight points, seven boards), while Butler got things going both in the scoring (seven points) and playmaking (four assists) categories.
The Celtics stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter when Marcus Smart finally woke up offensively, but the Bulls were able to keep them at arm's length and were never seriously threatened despite some weirdness (Rose turnover in the backcourt, Gasol trying to force some passes to Doug McDermott, including a lob). A couple McDermott threes helped the cause, and Chicago came up with some key offensive rebounds that led to buckets to help seal the deal.
This wasn't the prettiest of games, as the Bulls shot just 41.5 percent and the Celtics managed just 35.7 percent. Both teams are strong defensive squads, though, and with Boston on the SEGABABA, it wasn't all that surprising that things were ugly at times.
But the Bulls responded well when they went down by 10 in the second quarter, and they controlled the game the rest of the way. About the only bad part of the night was that the Celtics shut down the Gasol-to-Butler lob attempt on multiple occasions. And the Gasol-to-McDermott lob attempt was just comical.
Anyway, this was another strong win against a likely playoff team (although I really don't see it with the Celtics in terms of being a REALLY good team) as they prepare for a tough stretch ahead with a bunch of road games.