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"Old" Celtics derail rampaging Bulls


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO - With Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce getting up there in age, the Boston Celtics have often been dismissed this season as old and ravaged, and running on toxic fumes.

Injuries to key players, including point guard Rajon Rondo, who has missed 9 games due to a litany of woes, have done little to silence the murmurs that the Celtics are no longer a championship contender and that the glory days have passed them by.

But on Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden in Boston, the 2008 NBA champions proved that they might have enough left in the tank for one more run at the Larry O'Brien trophy as the Celtics beat the streaking Chicago Bulls, 95-91.

It was a healthy Rondo who led the way. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound guard registered his 9th career triple-double with 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. The 25-year old Rondo shot 11-of-22 from the field and 10 of 13 from the free throw line.

Boston's once-vaunted Big 3 also made an impact as 35-year old Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 12 rebounds while 36-year old Ray Allen drilled 11 points. Paul Pierce, 34, chipped in 9.

Chicago played without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who missed his second consectuive game due to painful back spasms. Without him, the Bulls didn't have the sync, the stride, and the firepower to beat a veteran Celtics team that still plays defense at an elite level.

The Bulls have been on a tear lately, winning 6 of 8 away from home, including an NBA record four straight road games by 20 points or more. But they couldn't weave such magic on Sunday.

Against the Celtics, the Bulls made just 34 of 88 field goals (38.6 percent), 6 of 20 triples (30 percent) and 17 of 24 free throws (70.8 percent).

Boston converted only 3 of their 13 three-points and 18 of 26 free throws, but the Celtics sank 37 of their 75 field goals for a high 49.3 percent clip. The Celtics also outrebounded the Bulls, 44-42, and had more assists, 23-18.

Trailing for most of the game and down by 14 in the fourth quarter, the never-say-die Bulls fought back and came to within 91-88 with 1:23 left to play. But after Paul Pierce turned the ball over, CJ Watson missed a 3-point attempt, forcing the Bulls to foul Rondo, who sank the insurance free throws.

Watson paced the Bulls with 23 points and 6 assists. Carlos Boozer also had 22 with 7 rebounds while Joakim Noah had 16 and 9 boards. Luol Deng chipped in 10 points.

The Celtics improved their record to 15-12. Despite the hiccup, the Bulls kept the best record in the East with a 23-7 won-lost slate.

But the Bulls, who just finished a 16-day, 9-game road trip, aren't concerned with records at this point. They have an elephant-size worry -- Derrick Rose's ailing back.

"It's been hurting the whole trip," Rose told the Chicago Tribune. "I just played through it. It tended to get worse after every game. I was really worried about it. But I'm trying to stay positive. I don't know what the diagnosis is. I just know my back is not right."

The Bulls return to action on Tuesday, at home at the United Center against the Sacramento Kings.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Tim Trimas.


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