Four takeaways as Boston Celtics fall to Chicago Bulls 128-114 after fourth quarter meltdown
BOSTON – The roller coaster of a season for the Boston Celtics continued on a downward slope Monday night at TD Garden. The hosts led up to 19 points in the third quarter, but the Bulls took control of the game with a 37-9 run to start the final quarter, moving away for the 128-114 double-digit victory.
The loss is the third straight loss for Boston (2-5) who have also fallen to 0-3 this season at TD Garden DeMar DeRozan scored a high of 37 points for the Bulls while Zach LaVine added 24 points for the 6 – 1 bulls. Jaylen Brown scored 28 points for the Celtics in the loss.
Here are four takeaways from another ugly loss for Boston:
Jaylen Brown breathed life into the Celtics in the second quarter, but it didn’t last: Chicago led by up to 11 points midway through the second quarter following a 15-0 Bulls run led by DeMar DeRozan. However, Jaylen Brown got off to a slow start to come to the rescue after being reinserted into the game by Ime Udoka. The All-Star erupted for 13 straight points in response to the Chicago run, triggering a 31-13 explosion by Boston to end the quarter. The 6-foot-7 winger eventually scored 15 of his 17 points in the team-high first half, but it was the speed of his scoring that was probably the most impressive. Brown had five consecutive shots in two minutes and 30 seconds, including three from beyond the arc during that span, completely changing the momentum of the game. It was Brown’s second strong game after he was called up by Ime Udoka for his “mind-boggling” inconsistency in Boston’s first five games. That hot score was not carried over into the critical time, however, as Brown went scoreless in the fourth quarter of the last disastrous period.
The Celtics fell back to average with their 3-point shot but it wasn’t enough: After one of the worst high-volume 3-point shooting performances in NBA history on Saturday night, the TD Garden was a much more friendly place for Boston shooters at the start of competition on Monday. Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown all knocked down multiple 3-pointers in the first half alone, helping the hosts knock down 56% of their 3s before intermission (9 of 16). Horford (21 percent) and Smart (27 percent) entered the game well below their career averages, but they took advantage of good ball movement as well as C’s judiciously pushing the ball in transition to create a cleaner look. Boston shot 15 of 33 from 3-point range (45.5%) in the loss, but went 0 of 8 of 3 in the final frame.
Boston’s five regular holders remain winless: The Celtics had come out flat with this group in their first two games together (both losses at TD Garden) and an assortment of injuries and illnesses had kept them from playing more together in the team’s first six games. This group came out again defensively uninspired to start the game in the middle of the Bulls’ scorching first quarter, they asserted control of the game in the second half, extending an eight point halftime lead to 18 points with a 20-10 run. first six minutes of the frame. However, an injury to Robert Williams halted Boston’s momentum and the starters were never able to regain momentum down the home stretch, collecting just nine points in the opening 11 minutes of the fourth quarter before being withdrawn.
Boston’s defense remains consistently inconsistent: The good vibes of the team’s best defensive outing in Washington quickly faded in the first quarter of that game after the Bulls started the game knocking down six of their first seven shots, including five direct 3-pointers. Boston’s defense managed to tighten in the middle two frames, as Chicago shooters cooled off the hot hand of DeMar DeRozan. However, a 12-0 run for the Bulls to open Boston’s double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and foreshadowed a constant theme of this group who failed to muster 48 minutes of effort and focus until present this season. The Bulls shot 81 percent from the field in the fourth quarter en route to victory.