Fast Break: Bulls stampede Celtics, Rondo calls it
|03.31.14 at 10:14 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo made his broadcasting debut during a scheduled night of rest, and while he left the booth with his Celtics leading at the break, the Bulls put a taxed C’s team out of its misery in the fourth quarter, 94-80.
Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless led the fizzling offense with 18 points apiece, but the Celtics (23-51) couldn’t avoid a fifth straight loss. Remarkable, the C’s only victory in their last 11 games came against the Heat.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Ankle trouble: The right ankle that has plagued Avery Bradley throughout the season flared up again before halftime, forcing him out of the remainder of the game. Given his vastly improved jump shooting, Bradley’s injury has constantly disrupted what should have been an impressive contract season.
Wings: Playing opposite Jeff Green, who submitted another Jeff Greeny performance, Mike Dunleavy eclipsed 20 points for the first time in weeks. While Rondo stressed the key to stopping Dunleavy was forcing him left, Dunleavy scored going right and finding open perimeter shots. Likewise, Jimmy Butler (18 points) gave the Celtics fits.
Fourth and long: It took more than four minutes for the Celtics to score their first basket of the fourth quarter. Seemingly gassed from playing the same team in two nights, the Celtics watched the Bulls rattle off 13-0 run before a Kris Humphries jumper finally stopped the bleeding with 7:50 remaining. The damage was done, however, as Chicago turned a 71-70 lead after three into a comfortable 14-point advantage down the stretch.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bench press: Over the large majority of the second quarter, Phil Pressey and Chris Johnson brought an energy that transformed a two-possession deficit into a three-possession advantage with a few minutes to play before the half. “They got gassed,” admitted Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and the Bulls trimmed a nine-point deficit into just two by the break. In a dozen first-half minutes apiece, Pressey and Johnson combined for 11 points and four steals.
Starting bigs: Playing against the more traditional 4-5 combo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass held their own. Each started 4-for-5 from the field and the duo combined for 19 points in the first half while holding their Bulls counterparts to 6-of-13 start. Their rebounding left much to be desired, but it’s hard to knock the effort of a couple veterans who keep battling after 50 losses.