TD Garden, Boston, MA— The Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls went into overtime on Friday night.  Why is this ringing a bell? These two teams have had some hard-fought battles over the past few seasons – mainly the 7-game series in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs nearly 18 months ago.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, on this night they would fall short in OT, 110-105.

Losing back-to-back games is always tough… especially when it happens on two consecutive nights on national television.  But these Bulls definitely had a chance to steal one in Boston.  It just didn’t pan out that way.

Joakim Noah again made his presence felt in this game.  He went out and got his fifth straight double-double of the  season.  He has done this in every game so far – it might be a bigger story if he doesn’t get at least 10 and 10 in a game from this point and on.

His shooting has gone all the way from ridiculed to light’s out.  I could barely believe my eyes, in the first quarter, when I saw KG double-team Noah in the post… twice.  That certainly has helped Taj Gibson get open looks against a few different defenses so far – just imagine when Carlos Boozer joins in the action.  The Bulls front-court offense is going to be a force to be reckoned with, with their shooting and passing ability.  With Joakim Noah’s versatility on offense, it makes life easier for whoever is out there with him.  He does it all.  Tonight, he went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line… he even netted a 19-foot jumpshot as an encore.

Bulls' head coach, Tom Thibodeau, and Kevin Garnett have a chat. Friday was Thibodeau's first game coaching against his former team.

Despite the great numbers by Noah (26 pts. 12 reb. 2 ast. 1 blk. 1 stl. 8/13 shooting), Kevin Garnett still may be in his head.  Joakim has said before that he considers KG to be a ‘dirty player.’  And Garnett is certainly known for his antics of throwing cheap shots in the form of sneaky elbows and trash talk (we all know what he really said about Charlie Villanueva).

But despite how you feel about Kevin Garnett, personally, you should give him credit where it is due.  After playing hurt for much of last season, he is back in All-star starting form; he had a stat line of 16-10-4 with 3 steals – including the one he swatted away from the misguided Noah to seal the Celtics’ victory.  He’s also had a couple of authoritative dunks, including tonight and on Wednesday against Milwaukee, where he looked like the KG of-old.  He may be dirty… but he’s pretty good.

Rajon Rondo and the Celtics were off to the races after Chicago took the early lead at the end of the first quarter.  It took the Bulls nearly 6:00 minutes to score a single point in the second period, while the 16-0 run by Boston ended up leading to a 16-point cushion. 

Playing from behind is becoming the Bulls’ speciality.  They came back late and even managed to take a 1-point lead a couple of times in the midst of lay-ups being exchanged by Rondo and Rose.  Luol Deng, who’s long-range stroke is looking deadly this season, hit 2 clutch three-pointers to tie the game, 96-96, with 1:15 remaining.

The Bulls had a chance to win the game on an isolation by Derrick Rose, but he stumbled and lost the ball as time expired.  There seemed to be a lot of contact on the play – initially by Rondo, though it was incidental, and then a blatant hold on Rose, which was also a no-call.

And then, there was overtime…

Joakim Noah scored a career-high, 26 points, in Friday night's game in Boston. He is the third Bull in this young season (previously Rose, 39, and Deng, 40) to set or match their career-high in points.

Kyle Korver played terrible defense in the final minutes.  He completely lost track of Ray Allen and allowed him to get two wide open looks at three’s off of ‘small’ pick and pops (one falling through).  Then Allen was allowed to run freely down the baseline for a one-handed jam with nobody under the basket to help.  There were a couple of frustrating in-bounding miscues, and a few head-scratching calls that went against the Bulls in crunch time.

The team is now 2-3 and needs to improve their secondary scoring and defensive rotating.  The turnovers need to decrease – 6 in the 2nd, led to a 30-15 Boston quarter.  But Ronnie Brewer looked much better and had a steal for a dunk.  Luol Deng missed looking up the court, or else he would have had two more points.  C.J. Watson is looking more sharp shooting the ball as well.

”We’re not there yet, but we’re pretty close,” Joakim Noah said, after the loss. ”We’re only going to get better. When we do, it’s going to get real ugly.  Everybody that’s talking real crazy, all the trash that people are talking right now, it’s going to come back at them and haunt them because when it counts, we’re going to be ready.”

This team has a lot of good things going for them, and hopefully they can hold their heads above water during a tough November schedule as Carlos Boozer eagerly awaits on the sideline.

Rami Abboud

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