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Second half rally leaves Celtics empty


A week after the Celtics [1] could only muster a franchise record-low 25 points in the first half, and only two days after Ray Allen [2] said he hated the way his team looked, Boston responded by producing paltry 13 points in the first quarter.

Remarkably, this was the lowest point total in the first quarter of this woeful three-game stretch of offense for the Celtics. In the first frame of the last three games, Boston is averaging just 14 points of offense. In a related note, the Celtics are on a three-game losing streak after Friday night’s home defeat to the Bulls, 88-79.

“The bottom line is we can’t dig ourselves into these holes in the first quarter,” said Paul Pierce [3]. “It’s seems repetitive. Starters have to do a better job of getting off to better starts.”

The Celtics shot 13-of-39 (33.3 percent) from the field in the first half. Even with the lack of offensive efficiency, Ray Allen was happy with the shot selection. “It’s hard to say it was a lack of energy,” Allen said. “We had great shots, we just didn’t make them.”

Doc Rivers [4] is still shuffling his rotation. On Friday, Rivers started Brandon Bass [5] over Jermaine O’Neal [6], and he also didn’t have Keyon Dooling [7] at his disposal because of a minor knee injury.

“Right now we have a lot of new guys,” Pietrus said. “We have to learn how the big three and [Rajon] Rondo play. For all of us it’s a new system. There are no excuses, but it’s a learning experience for all of us.”

More than anything, Friday night’s game was a lesson on why teams cannot afford to fall behind by large margins. The Celtics found themselves down by 19 points at halftime, then tightened up defensively holding Chicago to only 15 points in the third quarter, while the Celtics scored 26. Boston continued to put pressure on the Bulls, chopping the lead to just one point with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter.

“What happens when you put yourself in that far of a hole, and when you go on a run, is once [the other team] composes themselves, they can stave off the run,” Allen said.

The composure came in the form of superstar, Derrick Rose [8]. After Pierce missed a jump shot that would have gave the Celtics their first lead of the game, Rose scored Chicago’s next seven points to increase their lead back to eight. The Bulls never looked back.

“We had to scratch and claw our way back and exert so much energy,” said Pierce. “Guys get tired and can’t get over the hump.”

Pierce, in particular, has struggled since rejoining the team from a right heel injury. The team captain is shooting a combined 8-of-34 from the field during the three-game losing streak. “It’s going to take about seven to 10 games for me just to get in basketball shape,” Pierce said. “I have to play better for us to win ball games, and I realize that.”

The encouraging signs of life in displayed in Boston’s valiant comeback attempt didn’t produce results. And for a veteran team with championship experience, results are the only thing that matters. “We don’t really believe in moral victories,” said Pierce. “You either win or lose in here.”