Celtics knock off Bulls for second time NBC Sports

Celtics knock off Bulls for second time – NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls began the All-Star break with Thursday's 129-112 loss to the NBA-leading Boston Celtics at the United Center.

It is the Celtics' seventh straight victory and their second win in two attempts in this season's series, which still has a meeting in March, and has highlighted the disparity between these teams.

“When they increased their performance in the third quarter, we couldn’t keep up,” said Nikola Vucevic.

Here are 10 observations:

—The undermanned Bulls will rely on their key scorers to get through a daunting stretch of the schedule. Through three quarters, DeMar DeRozan and Coby White combined for 9-for-27 shooting. They finished a combined 13-for-34. The Bulls need more of them.

—Jayson Tatum had five points at halftime but scored 15 of his 25 points in the third quarter as the Celtics ran and hid. Boston turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

—Luke Kornet scored his first five baskets on dunks and ran downfield after a celebratory play. After his second straight putback dunk in the fourth period, White hit the basket support in frustration and DeRozan received a technical foul.

—The Celtics score and make the most 3-point shots in the NBA, averaging 16.2 points on 42.7 attempts. They conceded three points on their first four possessions and finished the game 23 for 37 from distance. They outscored the Bulls from distance by 39 points.

“That's what they do. They are a really good shooting team. Their entire starting lineup can really shoot,” Vucevic said. “We knew this was coming.”

—Boston isn't just an elite offensive team. They entered the game with the third-best defensive rating and blocked six of their eleven shots in the first quarter alone. Derrick White had three blocks in the early going, including one emphatic when he tackled Vucevic at the post. White was everywhere with 28 points and five 3-pointers.

—Coach Billy Donovan returned White, Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, DeRozan and Vucevic to the starting lineup with all of his impact on the perimeter.

—Here's everything you need to know about the Bulls' current depth situation, with Torrey Craig suffering an injury during the All-Star break and wearing street clothes alongside Patrick Williams and Zach LaVine: Julian Phillips was the sixth man .

—The Bulls assisted on 15 of their first 16 field goals and finished the game with 29 total assists. Ayo Dosunmu had six assists by halftime and had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a half for the first time in his career. Dosunmu played a strong game with 14 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

—Speaking of firsts: Vucevic scored 20 points in the first half, the first time in his career that he scored 20 points in a half. But Vucevic didn't score again until midway through the fourth period – his only points of the second half – and finished the game with 22 points and 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double.

“In the second quarter, when I really got going, we played faster and I was able to make a lot of my shots in the pocket, in transition and on the screen-and-roll when their defense wasn't holding up. ” Vucevic said. “In the third quarter, when they were taking so many shots and we had to get the ball out of the field, the game kind of slowed down. They were penetrating us and taking things out of the pocket. I'll have to look at that. “Let's see if I could have been more aggressive. But that's how it felt.”

—The evening gave Donovan another opportunity to see Al Horford, with whom he won back-to-back NCAA titles at Florida in 2006 and 2007.

“I was very blessed and lucky to be around him when he was young. But I would imagine he's probably still doing the same things now. He has an incredible ability to influence victory and the locker room. And the one thing I think everyone would say about him as a teammate is that he’s phenomenal,” Donovan said. “He has no personal agenda other than to win.”

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