News 4/24 Apr 24, 2009 4:38:50 GMT -5
Post by FLCeltsFan on Apr 24, 2009 4:38:50 GMT -5
Celtics roll in Win ‘D’ City
Stifle Bulls, take 2-1 lead in series
By Mark Murphy | Friday, April 24, 2009 | www.bostonherald.com | Boston Celtics
Photo by Matt Stone
CHICAGO - Paul Pierce [stats] said don’t worry about his tender game. Rajon Rondo [stats] said don’t worry about his tender ankle.
And Doc Rivers said don’t shed any tears for his defense, which, after giving up an average of 110 points in the first two games, produced one colossal stop in the Celtics [team stats]’ 107-86 Game 3 win against the Bulls last night.
Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon, so hot respectively in Games 1 and 2, were a combined 9-for-27 from the field, as the C’s rediscovered their inner defender.
“I was thrilled with the way we played,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if we got them rattled. We were more concerned with ourselves, and for two days I heard we couldn’t play defense.”
The victims of that talk were the players, who were marched through even a higher concentration of defensive retooling during the previous two days of practice.
But only the Bulls had cause to gripe last night.
After moving to Chicago’s tune during the first two games, the Celtics dictated the pace. The Bulls shot 37.5 percent from the floor, the C’s ran off their stops and enjoyed their most efficient night of the series.
Indeed, Pierce was the picture of efficiency, a 9-of-15, 24-point performance that included a 12-point first quarter and an 18-point first half.
Rondo, again playing as if his sore right ankle wasn’t an issue, muscled his way to 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Just as quickly as they lost homecourt advantage in a Game 1 overtime loss at the Garden on Saturday, the Celtics grabbed it back with an overwhelming burst last night. Pierce hit his first six shots, including daggers on three straight possessions. And when he left with foul trouble late in the first quarter, Rondo added pressure with a 16-point, eight-rebound opening half.
The point guard also kept the game moving in fifth gear, with the mistake-prone Bulls carrying 19 turnovers into the fourth quarter.
The hosts trailed by 25 points at that juncture, with the heroes of their first two nights - Gordon and Rose - shooting a combined 8-of-23.
Gordon was better late than early, which was part of the problem.
The C’s buried the Bulls with a three-trey barrage in the last 1:38 of the second, including a 28-footer from Stephon Marbury and back-to-back bombs from Ray Allen.
The Celtics went through a similar spurt midway through the third with an 8-0 run that included back-to-back treys from Allen and Pierce.
The Celtics led, 83-58, at the start of the fourth.
The rest was gravy, or, more to the point, garbage time.
“We know what kind of team we are, and the way we played tonight is the way we want to play,” Pierce said. “We felt that even though we won the last game, it wasn’t the way we wanted to play. We felt that tonight was the way we wanted to play offensively. Defensively we were controlling the boards, we were causing turnovers, and we were limiting their score options.”
But for Pierce, the bar still can be raised.
“We feel like we can still play better basketball,” he said. “Tonight we tried to play a little bit harder and a little bit faster. I thought we did a good job of winning the 50-50 battle - plays where there were loose balls we had a chance to get and they had a chance to get. I thought we did a great job of getting those 50-50 plays.”
And, as a result, a 2-1 edge in their first-round series with Game 4 looming Sunday afternoon.