Rajon Rondo had a triple-double, posting season highs in points and assists, and the Boston Celtics ended the Bulls' 5-game winning streak with a 95-91 win in the TD Garden on Sunday.
I'm not one to blame a loss on one player- Wes Welker in Super Bowl 46 excluded- but CJ Watson certainly has to take a lot of blame for this one.
Not only did he shoot an abysmal 8/23 from the field- including a 3/13, two rebound, two assist first half- he was primarily responsible for defending Rondo. And I use the word "defending" lightly. I wasn't sure anyone was guarding Rondo most of the game as he was left wide-open for numerous jumpers and it seemed as if he were Moses parting the Red Sea when he tried to get into the paint.
Granted, you usually want Rondo taking jumpers as he is possibly the worst shooter among starting point guards in the NBA, but when a guy is hot it's usually a good idea to start paying a little more attention to him.
That being said, the Bulls were still in this game most of the way, but nobody on the team could throw the ball in the ocean. Deng: 3/12. Gibson 1/6. Korver 1/5. Lucas 3/9.
Boozer (9/16, 22 pts, 7 reb) and Noah (6/10, 16 pts, 9 reb) played well again offensively, but it wasn't enough to overcome the frigidity of the rest of the team.
And the Bulls barely played any defense early- the Celtics were 13/22 in the first quarter and 8/16 in the second, shooting over 55% for the half. With the Bulls at 34% (16/47) at halftime, it's a miracle that they were only down by 5. They grabbed 11 offensive rebounds for 13 second chance points in the first half or the game would have been over by then.
I guess the most telling statistic that showed how bad the Bulls got outhustled in this one was the 33-7 advantage the Celtics had in fast break points. Yes, the old, crumbling Celtics, who play at the third-slowest pace in the league and whose top three scorers are all 34 or older, had 33 fast break points today against the Bulls.
That is completely unacceptable, and I'm sure Coach Thibs will let the team know about it soon enough.
Today, the Bulls looked like a team that was playing it's ninth consecutive road game over a 19 day span. Not only were they outworked and outhustled, they were outrebounded by a very pedestrian rebounding team.
All of that being said, the Bulls still sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 23-7 record, though they are tied with the Heat in the loss column. They are 1/2 game ahead of Oklahoma City for the best record in the league, though they trail the Thunder by percentage points and one game in the loss column.
They have played exactly 2/3 of their games on the road, and they'll now finish the season with 23 home games and only 13 on the road. Their road schedule isn't brutal, but they still have to play at San Antonio, Philadelphia, Orlando, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana.
The immediate goal of the team, however, is to get Derrick Rose healthy. He is scheduled to see a back specialist tomorrow, so we'll all know a lot more after that, but however much rest he needs is how much the Bulls need to give him.
Just get to the playoffs with a healthy roster, and this team has a shot at a championship, home court or not.
Today wasn't pretty for the Bulls or their fans, but it's just a minor blip in the big picture.