Bulls make statement with 96-83 road win over Celtics

 
 
  • Celtics forward Paul Pierce and Bulls center Joakim Noah collide while battling for a loose ball during the first half.

    Celtics forward Paul Pierce and Bulls center Joakim Noah collide while battling for a loose ball during the first half. Associated Press

  • Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, center, is surrounded by the Bulls' Taj Gibson, left, Jaokim Noah, center rear, and Kirk Hinrich, right, while hanging on to a rebound during the first quarter.

    Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, center, is surrounded by the Bulls' Taj Gibson, left, Jaokim Noah, center rear, and Kirk Hinrich, right, while hanging on to a rebound during the first quarter. Associated Press

  • Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, reaches as he tries to block a shot by Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine during the first half.

    Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, reaches as he tries to block a shot by Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine during the first half. Associated Press

  • Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, right, drives past Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas.

    Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, right, drives past Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas. Associated Press

Published: 1/14/2010 9:59 PM | Updated: 1/14/2010 11:00 PM

A popular tradition in Boston during the past few seasons is to punctuate a Celtics victory with video of vintage American Bandstand disco dancers, with special focus on a bearded gentleman wearing a tightfitting Gino Vanelli T-shirt.

Well, the Bulls knocked off the Celtics 96-83 on Thursday at TD Banknorth Garden, so the disco dancers stayed off the videoboard.

But a certain song by K.C. and the Sunshine Band would have been appropriate for the Bulls' locker room celebration. That's the way the Bulls like it against the Celtics - with Kevin Garnett on the bench in street clothes.

Garnett didn't play in last spring's playoff series between these teams, which was obviously a big reason why it took seven competitive games to decide the winner.

In the first two Bulls-Celtics contests this season, with Garnett on the floor, the Bulls lost to Boston by 28 and 26 points. Without Garnett, the Celtics didn't get their usual open looks from 3-point range, going 4-for-17, and had no one to stop the Bulls from building a 48-42 advantage in points in the paint.

Except for a few seconds in the first quarter, the Bulls (17-20) led this one from start to finish, opening up an early 17-7 advantage and never letting up.

Forward Luol Deng got the best of Paul Pierce, just as he used to do in the pre-"Three Amigo" days. Deng hit 8 of 13 shots for a game-high 25 points. After sitting most of the first half in foul trouble, Derrick Rose scored 9 of his 17 points in the final seven minutes to finish off the win.

Joakim Noah (15 points, 11 rebounds), Taj Gibson (14 points) and Kirk Hinrich (11 points) also played well for the Bulls, who won their third straight.

Pierce led the Celtics (27-11) with 20 points, but hit just 6 of 18 shots. Ray Allen, who scored 52 in one of the playoff games, finished with 8 points.

The Bulls' lead peaked at 13 points several times. The Celtics got as close as 75-71 with 8:06 remaining on a Kendrick Perkins layup. The Bulls answered with 6 straight points as Deng and Rose hit jumpers, then Gibson made a steal and found Noah for a fastbreak layin.

After Boston pulled within 86-80 when Pierce hit a 3-pointer with 3:49 left, the Bulls got three straight defensive stops while the lead stayed at 6. Finally, Noah knocked down a pair of free throws, then Rose blew past Rajon Rondo, split Pierce and Perkins to finish a layup that made it 90-80 with 1:48 remaining.

The Celtics were playing their fourth game in five nights. The Bulls return home Friday to face Washington in their last date at the United Center before leaving on the seven-game "ice show" road trip.

Mike McGraw's game tracker

Bulls 96, Celtics 83

Watching and waiting: Luol Deng had to sit on the bench during last year's epic playoff series because of a stress fracture in his shin. With a chance to join the action in Boston on Thursday, Deng delivered 25 points while hitting 8 of 13 shots as the Bulls pulled off a nice road win.

Missing pieces: Just like the playoffs, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett was out with a knee injury. Newcomer Rasheed Wallace didn't play because of a foot problem. Brian Scalabrine just couldn't pick up the slack.

Foot action: A day after describing the incredible pain of the plantar fascitis in his left foot, Bulls forward Taj Gibson had an outstanding game in Boston. The steady rookie produced 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.