Boston Celtics struggle, fall 126-116 to the Chicago Bulls

Boston Celtics (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics fell 126-116 to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, marking their second straight loss since the All-Star break. They’re now 37-23 on the season.

The Chicago Bulls were 14-44 going into tonight’s matchup. They had lost 11 of their last 12 home games. They were in Orlando less than 24 hours prior. By all measures, it should’ve been a scheduled win for the Boston Celtics.

But of course, in the spirit of this Celtics season, it was anything but. Boston lost 126-116 in an ugly game, a far cry from their 56 point win in December.

The game started on a high note for the Celtics, with Jayson Tatum scoring 7 unanswered points, giving real hope of a routine win for Boston. It wouldn’t last long though, as three pointers and second chance points kept an otherwise weak Chicago roster in the game. After a quarter, the Celtics were only up 33-28.

And once the benches took to the court in earnest, it only got worse. Boston got 7 points out of their reserves in the first half, including a goose egg from Gordon Hayward and a combined 2-10 shooting from Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. The Bulls, on the other hand, got 21 first half bench points from the likes of Ryan Arcidiacono and Cristiano Felicio. Not exactly the kind of players you want to see torch the Celtics defense.

This all culminated in a second quarter that saw Boston outscored 36-18, with Chicago entering the break up 64-51. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Tatum put up 15, 12, and 12 points in the half, respectively, but from the rest of the roster they got … pretty much nothing.

About the best thing that can be said about the half were some of the plays made by the trio, such as this beautiful Kyrie-Tatum connection:

The third quarter saw much of the same, as the Celtics continued to struggle from the field. Chicago’s lead got up to 25 at its highest peak, and though there was a bit of a run engineered by a few shifty plays from Brown, the third quarter ended with the same 13-point deficit for Boston.

While there were a few decent attempts at a comeback in the fourth quarter, there was too little time and too large of a lead. They got within 8 with about 10 minutes to go, but Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine shut up the comeback effort swiftly.

Those two led the show for Chicago, with Markkanen putting up 35 points and 15 boards and LaVine dropping a staggering 42-6-4 statline. While the Celtics bench put together a much better second half, specifically from Brown, it wasn’t enough to stop the firepower from the Bulls duo. They were the first teammates to drop 35+ for the Bulls since … Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Both were career high point totals.

Boston resorted to a full-court press with a little over three minutes to go, but it didn’t amount to much. There just wasn’t enough energy in the first three quarters: the Celtics lost the rebounding battle 49-32. The final buzzer sounded with a 10-point Bulls win, 126-116.

Irving led the Celtics with 37-5-10, which despite its impressiveness is a moot statline after the loss. Brown, Tatum, Horford, and Marcus Morris all scored double digits.

A devastating loss for the Celtics, they now drop to 37-23 on the season. With the Philadelphia 76ers loss earlier today, they had the opportunity to retake the fourth seed in the East, but they’ve now suffered another setback. The Indiana Pacers beat the Washington Wizards tonight, meaning the Celtics are now a full three games back from the No. 3 seed.

Next. Kyrie Irving talks Celtics' season and more on The Jump. dark

The Boston Celtics are back in action on Tuesday against the Raptors in Toronto. After dropping their first two games since the All-Star break, the matchup is likely in must-win territory. Tip-off at the Scotiabank Arena is at 8 p.m.