Celtics pass Bulls test to push NBA win streak to nine games

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Boston;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Boston</a>'s <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jayson Tatum;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jayson Tatum</a> shoots over <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Onuralp Bitim;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Onuralp Bitim</a> in the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Celtics;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Celtics</a>' NBA victory over the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chicago Bulls;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chicago Bulls</a> (Quinn Harris)

The Boston Celtics pushed their NBA winning streak to nine games with a 124-113 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday as the Houston Rockets won their eighth straight, 147-119 over Utah.

Sam Hauser made seven of the Celtics' 21 three-pointers, missing just once from beyond the arc on the way to 23 points.

Al Horford also scored 23 while Jayson Tatum -- back after sitting out a victory over the Pistons in Detroit on Friday -- led the way with 26.

With Tatum back it was the turn of Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis to rest nagging injuries, but the Celtics didn't miss a beat.

Horford drilled five three-pointers and the Celtics, who led 95-92 going into the fourth quarter relentlessly pulled away.

They took a 10-point lead on Tatum's finger roll layup with just over three minutes remaining and a Hauser three-pointer pushed the lead to 13 with 1:29 to play.

DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 28 points, but the Bulls dropped their second straight.

"Playing teams like Chicago is a great test for the playoffs because of their ability to go on runs, their ability to impact the game on turnovers, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds, free throws," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "They test you on the margins."

Mazzulla said Boston's 12-3 advantage in offensive rebounds and their ability to limit the Bulls to 11 free-throw attempts was a "recipe for success."

The Celtics are now two wins away from equalling their season-best 11-game winning streak.

They pushed their league-best record to 57-14 and lead the Eastern Conference by 11.5 games over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are fighting for their post-season lives. At 11th in the West they are one place outside the play-in tournament, 1.5 games behind 10th-placed Golden State.

Their eight-game winning streak is their longest since 2019 and it owes plenty to Jalen Green, who scored 41 points less than a week after posting 42 in a win over Washington.

"It won't really mean anything if we don't make the playoffs," Green said of his run of form.

Green drained seven three-pointers and Fred VanVleet hit 10 treys as the Rockets made 27 from beyond the arc in the dominant victory.

VanVleet, who tied James Harden and Chandler Parsons for the Rockets' record for three-pointers in a game, finished with 34 points.

"I felt good after the first shot," VanVleet said. "When it's going in like that, and you get good looks, teammates find you in good spots."

The Rockets were already up 47-23 in the first minute of the second quarter when Houston's Jabari Smith Jr. and Utah's Kris Dunn traded punches after tangling up on court and were ejected

Houston coach Ime Udokoa said he thought the altercation was a hangover from an ill-tempered exchange between the same two players in a January game.

- Suns rout Spurs -

In other games, Devin Booker scored 32 points to pace the Phoenix Suns in a wire-to-wire 131-106 victory over the Spurs in San Antonio.

Kevin Durant added 25 points and Bradley Beal added 13 points and 12 assists for Phoenix, who are just a half-game ahead of the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks for the sixth and final automatic playoff berth in the West.

The Kings eked out a 109-107 victory over the Magic in Orlando, where De'Aaron Fox's 31 points included two free-throws that put Sacramento up by one with 21.2 seconds remaining.

Keon Ellis added another free throw and Orlando's Paolo Banchero missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento, his 53rd straight double-double equalling Kevin Love for the longest such streak since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.

In New York, Donte DiVincenzo's 31 points powered the Knicks to a 105-93 victory over crosstown rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

Miles McBride added 26 points for the Knicks, who pulled away in the fourth quarter to hand the Nets a sixth straight defeat.