The Chicago Bulls defended strongly before going on to stun the Boston Celtics with a late offensive burst to pave an 89-80 victory at the United Center on Thursday.
Chicago relinquished a 44-35 halftime lead and trailed briefly at the start of the fourth quarter before Taj Gibson sparked a 20-11 run to seal the win.
The Celtics were dominant early, opening a 24-18 lead after the first quarter, but were repelled in the latter half of the second quarter.
The Bulls closed the half with a 22-5 run, led offensively by Joakim Noah, who scored 10 of his 15 points during the Bulls rally.
Defensively, recently signed reserve guard, Mike James shut down Rajon Rondo, who had scored eight points in the first quarter.
“I was shocked when coach called my name,” James told reporters. “He said it maybe four or five times. I had to make him say it one more time just to be sure, but it’s about being ready, about being prepared. When your number is called, you have to contribute however you possibly can.”
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 23 points apiece and both finished with double-doubles as Deng added 10 assists and Boozer pulled down 15 rebounds.
Noah also had a double-double for the Bulls with 16 rebounds as Chicago enjoyed a 52-37 advantage in that department.
“It’s tough to win that way when you’re giving teams second and third and fourth opportunities,” said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who had 14 points. “It’s definitely demoralzing. You work so hard on defense, challenge the shot and then they get an extra opportunity.”
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Rondo finished with 17 points.
In other action, it was:
‧ Clippers 74, Trail Blazers 71
‧ Pacers 93, Nets 88