Rose’s Return Sparks Bulls Past Celtics

Rose sat out the Bulls’ win over Washington Wednesday with a sprained big left toe, and after a slow start Friday he finished with a game-high 25 points and added seven assists.

The Celtics (4-6) struggled through a horrendous first half scoring on just 33 percent of their shots while the Bulls (11-2) sprinted to a 52-33 lead.

“The great players find a way,” Rose told reporters of playing through the pain. “I want to be great. This is something I have to fight through. It’s not stopping me.”

Slow starts have been a recurring theme in the Celtics’ current three game losing stretch, all at home.

“We have to have better starts,” said Ray Allen. “The one thing I can say is this first quarter was a mirror image of the last game. It’s hard to blame it on a lack of energy, because we had great shots and didn’t make them.”

Boston responded with a strong push into the fourth quarter, trimming the deficit to 67-66 on a three-pointer by Mickael Pietrus with 10 minutes left, before losing their momentum.

Boston missed their next two shots and Rose scored seven of the next nine points in the game to send the Bulls to victory.

“You almost expect that from him,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose.

“He let the game come to him. He didn’t try to do too much. In the second half, when it was time to make something happen, he made big play after big play. We’ve grown accustomed to that.”

Allen led the Celtics with 16 points and Rajon Rondo had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. Luol Deng scored 21 points for Chicago and had 16 rebounds, and Joakim Noah added 12 rebounds and 10 points.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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