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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Bulls Trample Celtics in Home Race

Chicago (58-20), winners of 17 of their last 19 games, closed out the third quarter with an 11-4 run to pull away from the Celtics (54-24).

“This meant a lot because you’re going against a team you could see in the playoffs,” Bulls guard Derrick Rose told reporters after scoring a game-high 30 points.

“You don’t want those teams to have confidence. We were aggressive. That’s the way it’s going to be. We’re a tough team. We grind wins out.”

The Bulls allowed the Celtics just four field goals in the fourth quarter and, with just four games remaining, Chicago look like genuine title contenders.

“I just thought they were far more physical, tougher, more prepared, which is on me,” said Celtics coach . “I thought Thibs (Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau) did a better job.

“I thought (Carlos) Boozer did a better job, I thought Derrick Rose did a better job. I just thought overall they just competed far better than us tonight.”

MVP candidate Rose added eight assists for the Bulls and Luol Deng scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half.

The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce with 15 points while scored 10 and Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were limited to seven each.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Alastair Himmer)

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Mavericks Clinch Comeback Win Against Celtics

BOSTON (Reuters) – The extended their win streak to seven games by scoring the final 10 points in a gripping 101-97 victory over the on Friday.

drained a three-point basket off a broken play with just 2.5 seconds left to put the Mavericks ahead 99-97.

An interior pass to was fumbled and, after securing the ball, the German passed it out to Kidd at the top of the arc for the shot.

“I thought about throwing something up toward the basket, but I’m glad I got it out to Jason instead,” Nowitzki said.

“And he gave the fake, then stepped back into it, which to me is one of the hardest shots in the game to make. But he made it look easy.”

Following Kidd’s basket the Celtics called a timeout. On the ensuing inbounds play Rajon Rondo’s attempted backdoor alley-oop pass to sailed beyond the forward’s reach and out of bounds.

The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics then fouled Nowitzki on the inbound pass and he hit both free throws to put the game out of reach.

“I loved the way our guys battled. It comes down to a make or miss here or there, that’s how close it was,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.

“Fortunately we were able to hang in and make plays. Kidd’s shot was huge and we got the stops we needed.”

Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 29 points, 21 in the second half, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Jason Terry added 17 points off the bench.

“I just thought defensively we broke a lot of our defensive rules,” said Celtics coach . “I thought we played hard, but I thought we tried to cheat a lot defensively as a team, you know gambles, and they made us pay for every one of them.”

Ray Allen led the Celtics with 24 points, Garnett had 16 points and Kendrick Perkins, who scored the Celtics’ final basket with 2:43 remaining, finished with 13.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Peter Rutherford)

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