Rajon Rondo went for a triple-double as he led the Boston Celtics past the Chicago Bulls 95-91. Rondo exploded for 32 points to go along with 15 assists and 10 rebounds as the struggling Celtics improved to 15-12.
If there was any question about which Celtic deserved to be added to the All-Star team as a reserve, the question was answered in the nationally televised game on Sunday. One of the players that beat out Rondo for a spot on the East's roster, Paul Pierce, went just 4-for-10 from the field and scored just nine points.
The Celtics came into the game losing two in a row - a heart-breaking overtime loss to the Lakers and a terrible 12 point loss to the Raptors. The Celtics got back on track at home, thanks in part to Kevin Garnett, who scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and grabbed 12 boards.
After winning five straight games on the road, including the last four by 20 points or more, the Bulls ran into a talented team in Boston, and couldn't overcome the injuries they have been dealing with all season long.
Derrick Rose missed his seventh game of the year and this his second in a row because of back spasms. He will seek a specialist on Monday in Chicago, meaning the injury might be more serious than just day-to-day.
Rip Hamilton also missed Sunday's game, making it his 19th of the season. He's missed the last eight because of a groin injury. Despite this, the Bulls are still 23-7 and leading the Eastern Conference.
The game started out going the Celtics way, as they built up an 18-7 lead midway through the first quarter, but the Bulls trimmed the lead to five by the end of the first. The second quarter was back and forth, as both teams scored 20 points in the quarter. The Celtics led 48-43 at the break.
The second half was much of the same until the start of the fourth, when Boston went on a 9-1 run to extend its lead to 86-72 with 5:07 left in the game. The game looked out of hand until the Bulls followed this with a run of their own to cut the lead to three at 89-86. But Rondo made clutch free throws, and the Celtics proved too be much for the Bulls. C.J. Watson and Carlos Boozer each added 22 points in a losing effort.
Boston holds the seventh seed in the Eastern conference, but with the way Rondo has been playing, the Celtics could quickly climb the East ladder. The Bulls stay in good shape as the first seed, but they must wait nervously for the news on Rose and his back issues.