BOSTON - Based on Friday's result, this might qualify as poor analysis. But before the contest, Boston coach Doc Rivers revealed that he thinks the Bulls are much better this season, even without leading scorer Ben Gordon.
"I think they're longer. I think they're a better defensive team. I think they fit," Rivers said. "That's taking nothing from Ben; he was phenomenal in the playoffs last year. But so was Ray (Allen). We thought they had a UConn deal going to get each other off (scoring).
"I think now their team does fit. (John) Salmons is at two, probably what he is. (Luol) Deng gives them more length at three. (Kirk) Hinrich is playing one and two. I just think they're a better fit."
Rivers, a Maywood native, expressed no relief that the days of dealing with the Bulls' pesky small lineup could be over.
"Hinrich's pretty good," he said. "He may be a better ballhandler and a better defender. Ben's a shot-maker. I guess you lose that. Other than that, I think they're a better team this year. I don't even think it's close."
Noah stands up to boos: Though he was booed frequently by fans at the TD Banknorth Garden on Friday, Joakim Noah put together a decent game, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Noah got a technical foul he didn't deserve in the second quarter. After a foul was called, Boston center Kendrick Perkins threw an elbow into Noah's chest. Noah reacted by taking a swipe at the ball while it was in Perkins' grasp. Referee Zach Zarba must not have seen the entire play and whistled Noah for a technical, igniting even more jeers from the crowd.
"I don't really care about that right now," Noah said of his treatment by Boston fans. "It's just tough that we lost the game. We have to get ready for Miami (on Sunday) and learn from our mistakes."
Sound the alarm: After playing at the United Center on Thursday, the Bulls arrived at their Boston hotel about 3 a.m. Friday, then were greeted several times in the next few hours by the fire alarm, which was malfunctioning.
"It's fine," coach Vinny Del Negro said before Friday's game. "We got plenty of sleep and had a late walkthrough."
Rasheed and greet: Before Friday's game, the door to the Bulls' locker room opened just as new Celtic Rasheed Wallace walked past in the hallway. Wallace stopped and screamed, "Hunter's a goon!" into the room, a nod to his former Pistons teammate Lindsey Hunter. Sadly, Hunter was out on the court at the time.
Bull horns: Rookie forward James Johnson scored his first NBA basket on a long jumper late in the fourth quarter. In the locker room, Jannero Pargo shook a water bottle at Johnson to commemorate the milestone. - By scoring 20 points against the Bulls, Boston' Ray Allen passed John Stockton for 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.