CHICAGO - Rajon Rondo piled up 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, leading the Boston Celtics to a 101-95 victory over Chicago on Monday at the United Center.
This had the potential to be a good night for Rondo when the Bulls announced defensive-minded point guard Kirk Hinrich would sit out with a right hip strain. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau used rookie Marquis Teague in the fourth quarter instead of backup Nate Robinson.
Forward Brandon Bass scored 16 points and Kevin Garnett added 15 for the Celtics. Luol Deng led Chicago with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
After trailing by 13 points early in the fourth quarter, the Bulls put together a furious rally, getting as close as 95-93 with 49 seconds left when Taj Gibson rebounded a missed free throw and fed Deng for a bank shot.
Needing a basket, Boston went to a pick-and-roll with Rondo and Garnett. When both Gibson and Joakim Noah jumped at Rondo, he tossed an easy lob to Garnett for a dunk with 41.9 seconds left.
The Bulls quickly drew a foul, but Gibson missed both free throws and the Celtics put things away with a Bass dunk with 22.4 seconds remaining.
It seemed like this just wasn't the Bulls' night when Boston finished the third quarter with a 3-pointer from rookie big man Jared Sullinger, boosting its lead to 82-70.
But the home team came alive with a 10-0 run, while holding the Celtics scoreless for more than five minutes. Noah scored seven points in the surge and his free throw brought Chicago within 87-84 with 8:23 remaining.
The Bulls then failed to score on six straight possessions while trailing by three. Jason Terry finally broke Boston's drought by draining a jumper with 4:54 left.
The Celtics dominated Chicago's vaunted defense in the first half, shooting 59.5 percent from the field while building a 58-46 lead.
Boston was credited with 10 fast-break points before halftime, and it seemed as though the Celtics were constantly beating the Bulls back on defense after forced shots or careless turnovers.
After hitting nine of their first 13 field-goal attempts, Boston opened an early 23-12 advantage. Chicago got as close as three points a few times before a 10-0 Celtics run made it 51-38 with 3:24 left in the first half.
NOTES: Hinrich missed Monday's game with a right hip strain. He sat out the second half of Saturday's game against Minnesota with the injury and had an MRI exam Sunday morning. His status is officially listed as day-to-day. ... Boston forward Jeff Green left the game in the second quarter with a mild right ankle sprain, which occurred when he stepped on teammate Garnett's foot on a drive to the basket. ... Thibodeau said injured guard Derrick Rose is expected to work on his knee rehabilitation in Los Angeles while the Bulls are away on a five-game road trip, which starts Wednesday in Phoenix . . . Thibodeau was credited with building Boston's defense during the 2007-08 championship season when he assisted Doc Rivers. The two coaches remain close.