Bulls’ defense falters en route to Celtics victory

Turnovers, defensive collapses and missed free throws combined for a perfect recipe to produce a Bulls loss Monday night to the Boston Celtics.

In front of a sellout crowd, the Bulls were defeated by the Celtics, 101-95, bringing the two teams to an identical 4-3 record.

With Kirk Hinrich sitting out because of a right hip injury, Nate Robinson started in his place and rookie Marquis Teague stepped up to the backup position on the depth chart.

Robinson provided the Bulls with a much-needed lift on the offensive end, scoring 11 points in the game, but also committed four of the Bulls’ 13 turnovers. Robinson was also ineffective on the defensive end guarding Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who ended the game with 20 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and five steals, one rebound short of a triple-double.

With Nate Robinson not putting together a complete game, Coach Tom Thibodeau decided to stick with Teague down the stretch during a crucial period. Teague provided energy and gave fans flashes of another Bulls point guard they’ve grown to love.

“I liked the way he matched up with speed,” Thibodeau said. “Barbosa is extremely quick so I thought his [Teague] speed was good in that matchup.

“I wanted to go to more trapping to try to get some more energy in the game so we went to more traps. I thought the speed and quickness of Taj [Gibson] and Marquis would help us in that area.”

The team trailed for most of the game before coming within two late in the fourth quarter, but defensive miscues and missed free throws gave the Celtics the momentum they needed to seal the victory.

The Bulls were down by just two on a Celtics possession with 49.5 second left in the game, but Rondo worked through the defense to find an open Kevin Garnett for a dunk that locked the win up for the Celtics.

“We covered that play in the pregame,” Thibodeau said. “They’re good at it. We got hung up a little bit. You have to know what’s coming.”

Luol Deng was the high scorer for the Bulls, scoring 17 points. Seven of Deng’s points were scored in the first half and only six in the second half, leaving many fans asking for more from the team captain.

The team will now travel to the west coast to face the Phoenix Suns, beginning the annual “circus trip,” which will continue over the weekend with matchups against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday.

Derrick Rose update
Bulls star guard Derrick Rose recently began cutting as he continues to rehab his torn ACL in his left knee and is reportedly right on schedule for a return close to the All-Star break.

Follow Royce on Twitter @IfFansCouldTalk

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