Game 17 Recap: Celtics 104, Bulls 92


They have a way of coming back to haunt you.

Last night, words sure came back to haunt Joakim Noah and the rest of the Bulls. Less than a month ago, Noah appeared on on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 and had some joking-but-kinda-serious things to say about Boston’s Kevin Garnett. In case you missed it, here’s a sampling:

“Kevin Garnett will not — will not — get a Christmas gift from me. I don’t like him. … He’s a very mean guy. Where’s the love? None at all. Ugly, too.”

Going back even further, Joakim had this to say after Garnett earned a suspension for throwing an elbow at Quentin Richardson during a playoff game:

“I’m going to say it: He’s a dirty player. He’s always swinging elbows, man. I’m hurting right now because of an elbow he threw. It’s unbelievable. He’s a dirty player. It’s one thing to be competitive and compete and all that. But don’t be a dirty player, man. He’s a dirty player.”

With those sincere but possibly ill-chosen words providing the backdrop, Garnett — whom many people thought had one foot in the NBA grave last season — went out and dominated: 33 minutes, 20 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, a blocked shot, 7-for-11 from the field, 6-for-6 from the line and a plus-minus score of +28.

And during all that statistical productivity, he found time to get into a push-and-shove match with Noah that resulted in double-technical fouls.

I love Noah. Love his fiery spirit and his defiant attitude. But still…sometimes it’s dangerous to tug on Superman’s cape. Especially when he’s on a pretty good team full of veteran players who have a lot of pride.

It actually reminded me of an NFL playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears at Soldier field back in 2007. Da Bears jumped out to a 16-0 lead, but the Saints pulled to within 16-14 on an 88-yard touchdown reception by Reggie Bush in the third quarter. That play just might have swung momentum in the Saints’ favor…

…except that Bush taunted Brian Urlacher by reaching back to wave the football at Urlacher, somersaulted into the end zone and then danced a lively jig for everybody to see. Bush apparently forgot that Urlacher was one of the best linebackers in the NFL and that the Bears’ defense was probably the best in the league.

Sure enough, Chicago’s D kicked it into overdrive after that play and the Bears went on to win 39-14.

Don’t tug the cape. Don’t do it.

Anyway, the Celtics — behind Garnett and Rajon Rondo (12 points, 19 assists, 3 steals) — had it any way they wanted against the Bulls. Boston shot 53 percent to only 42 percent for Chicago. The Celts outrebounded the Bulls 44-34 and outscored them 56-40 in the paint. Boston was +11 in assists, + 7 in points off turnovers, and — most importantly — +12 at the end of the game.

The Bulls’ biggest problem, though, was failing to match the Celtics’ out-of-the-gate intensity. Boston outscored Chicago 31-19 in the first quarter and then 29-19 in the third.

Said Carlos Boozer: “Our first and third [quarters] have been a problem for us all season, no matter who’s been out there. The first quarter, we dig ourselves a hole. The third quarter, we dig ourselves a hole. And we’ve been fortunate some games, but the majority of games in the NBA, when you get behind to a very good team, you’re not going to climb back too many times.”

It’s true. What’s also true is that inserting Boozer into a rotation that was peaking in terms of chemistry has kind of gummed up the works. It had to be done — Boozer wasn’t going to be left to rot on the bench — but trying to reboot your system against the Magic and Celtics, two of the league’s best and hottest teams, it a pretty tall order.

It’s like tossing a baby into a shark tank and then yelling: “Okay…learn to swim!”

In related news, Boozer played 21 minutes, went 4-for-10, grabbed only 2 rebounds and finished with a plus-minus score of -21.

But I’m not putting this loss on Boozer. It was a team loss…a systemic failure. The Bulls looked out of synch while being outworked and outplayed by a better team. The parts are there, but obviously there’s still work to be done.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “We just have to keep working at it. We have to study, keep making the necessary corrections. We got to play with more pace on offense, but again, a big part of that is the defense. They go hand in hand. When you’re making them miss and you’re rebounding well, and now you’re getting Derrick [Rose] in the open floor, that’s where you get your easy baskets. Everything is a grind right now because we’re playing out of the halfcourt so much.”

Timing. Chemistry. Rotations. These things will come. Remember: Boozer started full-contact practice on Monday.

As for Noah, well, he’s disappointed and a little grumpy…but not about Garnett: “It’s been like that every time, every time I play KG. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t matter. Who cares? At the end of the day, they won the game. That’s what’s frustrating. I don’t care about the other stuff. At the end of the day, it’s talk, all talk. Nothing’s gonna happen.”

And KG? What’s his take on his feud — if it can even be called that — with Noah?

Said Garnett: “No, let me tell you something about people, man. Everybody has an opinion and, obviously, he had one. I’m not entertaining nor addressing nobodies. I’m not even entertaining them. I’m focused on basketball — winning and trying to make this team better. Other than that, I’m not [commenting] on anything.”

When asked if he considered Noah a nobody, KG simply said “Next question” then gave a quick wink and a smile.

Now let’s hope Noah was listening…and that next time the Bulls play the Celtics, KG’s words are the ones that come back to do the haunting.

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

, ,

8 Responses to Game 17 Recap: Celtics 104, Bulls 92

    Enigmatik December 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    The Bulls need to just shut up and play. It’s as simple as that.

  2. Inception December 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    1-3 since Barkley picked CHI to come out of the East.

    we’re just a playoff team right now….that’s it.

    C-Lo-The-Great December 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I agree with you on that Bulls should just shut up and play. I thought it was interesting when Jeff Van Gundy said there might be a problem with the way the Bulls are warming up. I think Thibs needs to change things up because yesterday was not the only time the Bulls are coming slow out of the gate. Something has to change about their slow starts or their never going to beat the elite teams of the league.

  4. TBF December 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    No, it isn’t as “simple as that”. First, when you insert a new player into the lineup, it’s going to cause chemistry issues. I know, I know, Thibs said it wouldn’t, but he was lying. It would, it did, and everyone with a brain knew it would. It just so happened that we tried to do it against the two best teams in the East, perhaps in the NBA. It’s going to take time to get Boozer acclimated to game speed. He looked better last night than he did the night before, and that’s heartening. Give it a few games; it’s a process.

    What I find more troubling is the Bulls habit of falling behind huge early in games before they pull back into it with a furious rally. It’s like they do that every game. That kind of mush might fly against bums like the Kings or the Suns, but it isn’t going to work against the likes of the Magic and Celtics. They’re way too good for the Bulls to spot them 20 points. There’s got to be a reason why this keeps happening. I think one reason is our absolutely dreadful SG play. In 56 minutes of playing time, Korver, Brewer and Bogans went a combined 4-11 and scored 10 points. The also managed a combined 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. See where I’m going?

    In case you don’t, the answer is “That’s not good enough”. Bogans needs to go to bench and he needs to go there now. And stay there. I’m sorry, when he’s in the game, he’s completely invisible. He got off 1 shot, scored no points and his 1 rebound kept him from having a 13 billion. Oh, my bad, he also turned it over once. Yeah, yeah, he only played 13 minutes, but that is just dreadful. Ronnie Brewer needs to be starting. Bogans defense may be good, but we need someone who isn’t a complete and utter liability on the offensive end. When he’s in, it’s like trying to play 4 on 5. Is it any wonder we start off games so slowly?

    That said, Brewer isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Over his last 5 games, he’s averaging 26 minutes per game, but only giving us 4 points and 5 boards. And that include an anomolous game against the Kings where he grabbed 10 boards. I know we just had a post detailing the love we should have for the guy, but he really needs to step up. When you’re getting 20 to 30 minutes a game and you’re only giving my team a handful of points and next to no rebounds, that’s not going to be enough.

    Forget ‘Melo, the Bulls need a SG.

    BoppinBob December 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Basically, the Bulls are starting over to build the rotation and the floor chemistry. The result is a bump in the road that could last a month or two, the team prior to Boozer’s return had pre-season and 15 games of the season to build the chemistry that resulted in a 9-6 start. I will enjoy watching the integration of Boozer into the current Bulls, and anticipate problems with the better teams during the process. Hopefully the Bulls will continue to beat the teams they should beat.

    Gorditadog December 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    We gave up way to many easy baskets last night. When we did play good defense and forced bad shots, we gave up too many offensive rebounds. I’m thinking that Tibs main focus right now is figuring out how to stop opponents’ point guards from penetrating at will.

    I am also thinking that Tibs likes Ronnie Brewer over Keith Bogans. Since the Bulls began their road trip Brewer has played more than Bogans in every game, averaging 26 minutes per game to Bogans’ 15. Not sure why Ronnie isn’t starting, but he is getting starter’s minutes.

  7. yomomma@hotmail.comm'
    jj4three December 4, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    one disapointment was how shaq body checked rose, and no one got mad, on top of that scalabrine was laughing and having a jolly good time. the refs love f*cking the bulls over with ticky tack fouls and not giving shaq a tech. they call techs for every other reason, why not that ?

    anyways, its time for the bulls to put someone on their ass, wether its dwight, kg, or lebron. they got the hustle and drive, now its time to put fire up someones ass.

    time for JJ to come in along with kurt thomas. two guys you dont want to start a fight with, on or off the court.

    Scottie Pimpin December 5, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    rose for three !!!!

    ‘too fast, too strong, too good’

Designed by Anthony Bain