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Celtics look to get off to another hot start

Oct 31, 2008 - 10:54 AM Chicago (1-0) at Boston (1-0), 8:00pm EDT

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The celebrations are officially over with, and now the Boston Celtics can get back to business - namely, defending their championship.

The Celtics opened the regular season with a flourish on Tuesday, unveiling their championship banner, handing out the rings and finishing it all off by defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They will try to make it two in a row Friday as they host the Chicago Bulls.

Last year's Celtics won their first eight games of the season en route to a 66-win finish and their 17th title.

The Bulls, who stumbled to a 33-49 mark last year after three straight playoff appearances, opened up the season with a 108-95 victory over former head coach Scott Skiles and his Milwaukee Bucks as Vinny Del Negro picked up the first win of his coaching career.

But the Bucks are the Bucks - Friday's test is against the reigning champs. The Celtics manhandled the Bulls last season, rolling to a sweep of the season series with four double-digit victories. Chicago's top two scorers from last year, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng, combined to shoot just 34 percent (35-of-104) in those four losses.

Top overall pick Derrick Rose gets his first crack at the Celtics. The rookie point guard, who earned a starting job in the Bulls' crowded backcourt with a strong training camp and preseason, collected 11 points and nine assists in his NBA debut on Tuesday.

Chicago received contributions all over the floor in the season opener. Deng led six players in double figures with 21, while Gordon added 18 and Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas chipped in with 15 apiece.

Pierce, fresh off an NBA Finals MVP award, remained in top form as he led the Celtics with 27 points. The other two components of the "Big Three" - Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - combined for just 19 on 7-of-24 shooting.

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    CHICAGO 80

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    Bulls 13, Celtics 24  End of 1stOct 31 8:40 PM

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    CHICAGO 13

    Oct 31 8:36 PM