A Celtics-Bulls match-up has always been hard fought and edge-of-your-seat compelling. This goes back to the days of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. So it came to no surprise that this almost went down the wire — albeit a different set of players and era — when the Boston Celtics subdued the Chicago Bulls late, 107-99 in Boston Tuesday morning (Manila time).
It was a tight ball game all throughout even though the Celtics threatened to pull away in the third quarter from another mesmerizing performance from all-star Jason Tatum and star forward Jalen Brown.
Tatum got fouled on a 15-foot fadeaway and made the ensuing bonus point from the free throw line that would see him go on and score 9 straight points to extend the lead to 13 in the third quarter, 74-61 Celtics.
The lead would go up as high as 16 points after Derrick White converted two of his free throws with five minutes left in the third. Good thing the Bulls stuck around a bit behind Andre Drummond’s own two free throws at the end of the quarter.
LaVine’s daring fight back
Celtics were leading 89-77 when Bulls’ star Zach LaVine took over early in the fourth, rattling off seven straight points to cut the Celtics lead to five, 89-84.
Just when the Celtics threatened to pull away behind shots from Jaylen Brown and Grant Williams to take the lead up to 96-84 with five minutes left, Nikola Vucevic made a shot to stem the tide.
LaVine made it very interesting as he almost single handedly got the Bulls back, scoring crucial points, which he capped by making a 27-foot three-pointer to cut the Celtics lead to two with two minutes left in the game.
Vucevic made a shot to stay within striking distance — 101-99 Celtics with a minute left when center Al Horford responded with a rare shot from beyond the arc to finally end the Bulls ferocious comeback.
Tatum spectacularly ended the game with an emphatic dunk and a free throw after a Bulls miss.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Grant Williams came off the bench with 20 points and Jalen Brown had 19 points.
Chicago had Zach LaVine leading the team with 27 points and Nicola Vucevic pitching in 21 points.
The Celtics will attempt to extend their 3-game winning streak against New Orleans at home next while the Bulls will try to bounce back against the Washington Wizards.