Nineteen turnovers from the guys in green and a 35 point effort from Zach LaVine kept the Bulls in this one, but the final result was a familiar one for a now 13-23 Chicago Bulls squad.
The Celtics were up 105-101 with about a minute to play as the Bulls worked hard throughout the fourth quarter to get back into the game. But on the next possession, Celtics star Jayson Tatum hit a 3-pointer at the very end of the shot clock with Kris Dunn draped all over him. Now ahead by seven points, it was all the Celtics needed in terms of padding their lead as the Bulls would only add a garbage-time 3-pointer to their total as they fell 111-104.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bulls forced three turnovers on four possessions and made six shots in a row to pull within three points after trailing by as many as 16 points earlier in the quarter.
Celtics big man Enes Kanter put on a show at the end of the third quarter. In true ‘90s big man fashion, the Celtics kept on getting him isolation opportunities in the post against the Bulls young bigs. The 6-foot-10-inch veteran methodically found ways to score with his back to the basket from there. The Bulls were only down 12 after three quarters largely because of the 26 points on 7-for-14 from the field Zach LaVine had poured in at this point in the game. Per a note from Darnell Mayberry on Twitter, the Bulls are 3-15 when trailing after three frames.
The Celtics rode an 11-2 run to take a 49-44 lead with 4:38 remaining in the second half. They led 55-52 after a hard-fought and competitive first half. All the Bulls starters ended the half with at least six points. Wendell Carter Jr. didn’t have the most eye-catching numbers but probably played the best half of anybody affecting the game on both sides of the ball.
The Bulls young big man finished with another double-double, scoring 11 points and collecting 14 rebounds.
The Bulls came ready to play today and the Celtics methodically had to work their way back into the game after a slow start. Zach LaVine had 13 points in the first quarter despite the Celtics best efforts to slow him down.
The C's were throwing the kitchen sink at LaVine to try and slow him down in that first quarter. Blitzing w/ Theis, dropping Kanter, giving Smart, Brown, Tatum chances to slow him down. Nothing worked. Impressive 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting.— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 5, 2020
On the Celtics broadcast of the game, it was mentioned that Lauri Markkanen was the first Bulls player to wear No. 24 in Chicago since Brian Scalabrine. Of course, Scalabrine is the color commentator so he also reminded us that Markkanen actually called him to ask permission if that was all right which is absolutely hilarious. It’s old news, but it was still funny to hear Scal recount the story on the broadcast.
The Bulls are now 0-3 in this tough stretch of games against playoff-bound opponents. They will try to get a win on Monday night against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.