“What you saw tonight was what we call ‘stopping the bleeding,”’ he said after the Celtics beat Chicago 107-82 on Friday to stop their losing before it became a streak.
“When we lose, we want it to be very, very, very, very few, and we want to learn from what mistakes we made in the loss and apply it in the next game. I thought we did a good job of that.”
Paul Pierce scored 15 of his 22 points in the third quarter, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the period as the Celtics pulled away. Boston recovered quickly from Wednesday’s last-second loss to Detroit, taking an early lead against the Bulls, never trailing and never surrendering its double-digit lead after scoring 10 consecutive points to make it 40-22 with 7:50 left in the first half.
“The loss to Detroit left a bad taste in our mouths,” said Pierce, who joined Garnett on the bench for the fourth quarter. “It didn’t matter who we played tonight, we were going to come out and take it to them. It didn’t matter who was in the building.”
Pierce added seven rebounds and Ray Allen scored 18 for the Celtics, who still have the best record in the NBA (21-3) despite ending their franchise record-tying home win streak at 12 on Wednesday.
“We were fired up,” said Garnett, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. “The Detroit game was still on our minds. We wanted to get back to the things we know we do well.”
Ben Gordon scored 19 for Chicago, and rookie Aaron Gray had 14 to reach a career-high for his second consecutive game filling in for the injured Ben Wallace. Tyrus Thomas grabbed nine rebounds for the Bulls, who had won eight straight against Boston before losing in their first matchup this season.
“You hope for more,” coach Scott Skiles said, adding that he would look at the tape to make sure his team didn’t give up. “It just seemed like we gave in to it a little bit. And against a team like that they are going to sense that, (and) you’re going to be in trouble.”
Chicago seemed to have the answer for Pierce, holding him to 10 points or fewer in three of the previous four games—including a season-low eight points twice last year. Guarded by Luol Deng, Pierce missed five of his first seven shots on Friday before getting on target in the third, hitting three 3-pointers and three free throws in a six minute span that helped Boston turn a 16-point lead into an 84-61 blowout.
Garnett had a scare late in the first half when he was poked in the right eye by Joakim Noah while fighting for a rebound; he did not leave the game.
Wallace missed his second consecutive game with bone spurs in his left foot.
Boston led by as many as 22 points in the first half.
Red Sox owner John Henry was sitting courtside. New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson helped the Celtics’ mascot with a stunt dunk between the third and fourth quarter. … The 24-second clock went out late in the third quarter, and the public address announcer called out when there were 10 seconds left.