Bulls stifle Celtics, on cusp of clinching EastApr 8, 2011 - 5:17 AM Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Derrick Rose finished with 30 points and eight assists, as the Chicago Bulls shut down the Boston Celtics, 97-81, in a matchup of the Eastern Conference's elite.
Rose made 9-of-16 shots and pulled down five rebounds for the Bulls, who got 23 points from Luol Deng to win for the ninth time in 10 games.
Chicago is now four games in front of Boston and idle Miami for first place in the conference, which it can clinch with just one more victory. All three teams have four games left.
"There's no coincidence the Bulls have the best record in the East," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "They've earned it, and they've earned it with their heart, they've earned it with the way they play."
Paul Pierce had a team-high 15 points for the Celtics, who had won two of the first three matchups against the Bulls this season.
But home court seems to be a big advantage in the series, at least this season.
Boston won both games at TD Garden and scored more than 100 points both times. Meanwhile, Chicago claimed a 90-79 victory at United Center on January 8, and stifled the Celtics again in Thursday's game. Boston shot only 38 percent and 2-of-10 from three-point range.
Chicago showed signs of taking control in the first quarter, when it held a 10-point lead before carrying a 26-18 advantage into the second. The Bulls were up by as many as 11 in the second quarter, but Boston stayed close and was within 48-43 at the break.
The Celtics moved in front at the start of the third, when Pierce hit a jumper before Rajon Rondo sank consecutive layups. However, Boston endured a scoreless stretch of about 4 1/2 minutes as the Bulls re-built their lead.
Rose's layup midway through the period ended a 10-0 run and gave Chicago a 58-49 lead. The Celtics narrowed their deficit to a possession later in the quarter, but the Bulls closed the period with a 10-2 burst to restore some cushion.
Deng and Rose hit three-pointers during the stretch, which had Chicago up 71-60 moving to the fourth.
Boston, which shot 32 percent in the second half, never recovered. Carlos Boozer started the final quarter with a three-point play, and the Bulls led by double digits the rest of the way.
"Our goal is much higher than a regular season game in April," Boozer said. "We didn't assemble this team so that we can have a great season and not be good in the playoffs. We want to go deep, and we have goals of hanging banners this year."
Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for Boston...The Celtics made 23-of-26 free throws...Chicago held a 44-35 rebounding advantage.
- BOSTON: 81
Apr 7 10:37 PM
- BOSTON: 60
End of 3rd
Apr 7 10:01 PM
- BOSTON: 43
Apr 7 9:16 PM
- BOSTON: 18
End of 1st
Apr 7 8:44 PM
- BOSTON: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 7 8:18 PM
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