Celtics crush Bulls to open stretch run
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Celtics crush Bulls to open stretch run

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, and that is what the Chicago Bulls (26-30) were up against last night at the United Center. Coming off an eight-day layoff due to the All-Star break, the Bulls kicked off the unofficial second half of their season against one of the best teams in the entire NBA th, the Boston Celtics (44-12).

The clear standard in the Eastern Conference as the level every other team is trying to get to, Boston has been the odds on favorite to not only win the East, but to claim another Championship to add another banner to the rafters. Despite the Bulls best efforts to keep things close, especially in the first half, the Celtics imposed their will in the second half as they disposed of the Bulls 129-112.

All it took for the Celtics to make their presence felt was a strong first quarter that saw Boston open up a 31-23 lead. Then came the second quarter, when the Bulls played arguably one of their best quarters in quite some time. Allowing 28 points defensively isn't ideal, but when your offense puts up 39 against a defense as good as Boston there is something to be said about that.

Nikola Vucevic played a massive role in that, as he scored 12 of his team-high 22 points in that second quarter and had 20 points overall in the first half. That alone led to the Bulls leading 62-59 at the half as Coby White knocked down a deep off-balance three with less than 10 seconds to go to send the Bulls into the locker room leading by three. After a slow start, White started to pick things up as he added 20 points to give Vucevic a terrific inside-out combo.

Once the second half began, it was all Boston, as they made things look relatively easy. Led by Jalen Brown, not only did the Celtics outscore Chicago 37-21 in the third to take a 13-point lead, but they outscored them by 20 points in the second to push them to the massive win. Those final 24 minutes show how good this Celtics team can be, as they are equally as good offensively as they are defensively.

While White and Vucevic may have been the long Bulls to score 20 or more points, six players managed to score in double figures, including all five starters. Demar DeRozan had a relatively quiet night but came away with 19 points. You also had Ayo Dosunmu continue his strong run of play with 14 points and eight rebounds, with Alex Caruso adding 12. Andre Drummond rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Bulls with 11 points off the bench, but it still wasn't enough.

Brown and Jayson Tatum are the names that come to mind when you think about the Celtics and their offense. Both of them had strong showings, with Tatum picking up 25 and Brown with 21, but the Celtics proved they have way more depth than that and have others who can beat you. In this one, Derrick White took his turn to step up his game as he led all scorers with 28 points and five assists in one of his better showings of the season.

Boston also picked up 14 points from Kristaps Porzingis, with former Bull Luke Kornet adding 10 points off the bench for the balanced offensive attack. The biggest difference in the game was the perimeter shooting for both teams, as the Bulls struggled to knock down the triple and couldn't defend it either.

Chicago knocked down 10 of their 28 triples, but it was the Celtics coming away with 23 makes on 47 attempts. That is a 39-point difference on the scoreboard, but anytime you attempt 47 shots from a distance, you're setting yourself up for a big game offensively.

Windy City tops Westchester to begin second half

Not only did the Chicago Bulls return to the court for the first time in over a week, but so did their counterpart, the Windy City Bulls (7-12), as they kicked off their unofficial second half. Although things haven't always gone according to plan this season, the Bulls have started to play better basketball, which continued against the Westchester Knicks (6-15) on Thursday.

Led by a massive second and third quarter that saw the Bulls outscore the Knicks 59-36, it was the Windy City defense that took over from there as they secured the 98-84 win. As usual, this team's success was in the hands of Adama Sanogo, who surprisingly wasn't in the starting lineup. Whether by design or just trying to switch things up, Sanogo continued his strong play to lead Windy City with 19 points and 12 boards.

He wasn't alone in having a massive game, as five others added double figures, including four starters. Henri Drell led all Bulls starters with 16 points, while Quenton Jackson chipped in with 15. You also had Bobby Coupet Jr and Derrick Favors pick up 10 points to pace the starting five, with Evan Gilyard II grabbing 13 more off the bench. The Knicks were led by Goodwin and his 26 points, with Noel adding 15.

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