Boston and Chicago each look to earn a rare win in their final game before the All-Star break when they meet for the third and final time this season.
The Bulls fired coach Bill Cartwright in November after he posted a 4-10 record, and eventually replaced him with Scott Skiles.
Skiles was one game under .500 through his first seven contests with Chicago, but the team has since been in a downward spiral. The Bulls have lost 22 of 29 since Dec. 17, including seven of their last eight.
Chicago returned home after a 1-6 road trip to face the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, and lost 103-84 to the team with the NBA’s best record.
The Bulls got a fifth straight game of 20 points or more from Eddy Curry, who finished with 23, but the team was booed in the final minutes in falling to 8-17 at home. Chicago went 27-14 at the United Center last season.
“It is on us, last year we had a great year here,” Bulls guard Jamal Crawford said. “But our fans are sticking with us, so we need to do something to make them proud. We have played good the last four or five games … but when we start missing our shots we put our heads down and don’t play with the same (defensive) intensity that we should.”
Boston coach Jim O’Brien resigned on Jan. 27 after leading the team to a 22-24 mark, and was replaced by assistant John Carroll.
The Celtics lost their first five under Carroll, and fell to 1-6 since he took over with a 97-89 road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Paul Pierce scored 32 points—19 in the second quarter—for Boston, but made just 1 of 7 field goals in the fourth, when the Celtics scored only 13 points.
Despite the recent slide, Boston is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“Every game for us is important at this point,” Pierce said. “We’re hanging on by a fingernail to the eighth spot. All these games before the All-Star break are must wins for us. We didn’t take care of business (Monday).”
STANDINGS (through Feb. 10): Celtics - 3rd place, 8 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Bulls - 8th place, 24 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 23.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 5.3 apg. Bulls - Crawford, 16.9 ppg; Davis, 9.0 rpg; Hinrich, 5.9 apg.
SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 3; Celtics, 88-77. At Chicago, Pierce and James had 14 points each in the final quarter—James scored 12 straight Boston points at one juncture—and the Celtics rallied from a 15-point deficit to post the victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 12-13 on the road; Bulls - 8-17 at home.