To start 2014, the Chicago Bulls took on the visiting Boston Celtics for a Thursday night match-up. The year started off on a good note as the Bulls went on to defeat the Celtics 94-82.
In the first quarter, both teams settled for jumpers. It worked out well for both teams as the Celtics shot 44.4% from the field while the Bulls shot 45.5%. Chicago was more aggressive to end the quarter though.
Two fouls by Jimmy Butler brought Tony Snell off the bench and into the game. He assisted on a dunk by Taj Gibson. This was followed by D.J. Augustin assisting on a driving layup from Carlos Boozer. Then, Gibson got an easy bucket on the right block for Chicago’s last points in the quarter. This gave the Bulls the 24-21 lead going into the second quarter, but this didn’t give them momentum.
The second quarter opened with an 8-0 run from Boston leading to Tom Thibodeau calling a timeout. Chicago caught up from there and took the lead with the help of Joakim Noah’s playmaking ability. Noah threw a lob to Gibson from the left-wing perimeter for a dunk to bring the deficit to one point. He then fed a cutting Augustin with a pass to a layup to take back the lead, 35-34.
Chicago maintained their lead going into halftime and even extended it to three points, but neither team went on much of a run. This is partially due to the fact the officials called 26 total fouls in the first two quarters. All of the game stoppages never allowed for it. The excessive whistle blowing also left Boozer, Butler and Gibson in foul trouble with three fouls apiece. Despite the foul trouble, Boozer had an efficient first half with 14 points off of 7-10 shooting.
Up until halftime, the score remained a close one with the largest lead being seven points. That changed in the third quarter when the Bulls were finally able to make a run and get defensive stops. Luol Deng and Noah combined to score the first 13 points of the quarter for Chicago and attain the double-digit lead.
Boston was able to cut the deficit down to four points near the end of the third quarter, but the Bulls got their offense together in the fourth quarter. The period opened with a layup from Noah followed by a layup and three-pointer from Mike Dunleavy, giving the Bulls a 15-point lead. The Celtics were unable to cut down the lead into single digits for the remainder of the game.
Noah led the way with a near triple-double of 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Boozer followed with 16 points and seven rebounds. Butler, Deng, Dunleavy and Gibson also scored in double figures.
Next for the Bulls, now 13-18, are the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks will visit the United Center on Saturday, Jan. 4 for a 7 p.m. central game.