A Kyrie-less Boston Celtics never looked back after taking a 19-point lead in the first, as they’d go onto beat the Chicago Bulls, 105-89, on Monday night.
Earlier in the day, it was announced that Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) would be out of the lineup. And it was Shane Larkin who would get the starting nod first time nearly two years.
Coming into the game, the Celtics had won four straight before falling to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. And the Bulls had lost four straight before knocking off the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The Celtics came right out of the gate firing on all cylinders, shooting 57.7 percent from the field, while knocking four-of-six three-pointers.
And to make things easy, can we just call the entire first quarter a run for the Celtics after taking a 35-16 lead into the second?
At the end of first, Jaylen Brown already had 14 points (6-8 FG), with Al Horford not far behind with nine points, which included his 10,000th NBA career point.
Al Horford smiles at the mention of him scoring his 10,000th career point tonight. “That’s what happens when you play a lot of years.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 6, 2018
The Celtics held their sixth largest lead of the year (26) as they went into halftime with a 55-29 lead.
In the first half the C’s defense buckled down, holding the Bulls to an astonishing 28 percent from the field, while shooting 52 percent themselves.
Sophomore forward Jaylen Brown was taking full advantage of his scoring opportunities with 14 points on six-of-nine shooting. And Al Horford and Jayson Tatum were chipping in with 11 points each by the end of the half.
This is incredible! Thank you Marcus Smart!
Marcus Smart out here breakdancing pic.twitter.com/bX8oxUqhA2— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 6, 2018
With the C’s remaining aggressive on both ends of the floor throughout the third, they were able to take their fourth largest lead under head coach Brad Stevens at 37 points, with five minutes to play in the quarter. And it just so happens to be their largest on the road since 2013, according to the voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande.
And the Celtics would go onto take an 86-53 lead into the fourth behind a team-high 21 points from Brown. He’d later finish the game with four rebounds and three assists, while shooting 69 percent from the field.
The Bulls had their best quarter of the night in the fourth, out-scoring the Celtics 36-19, but it wasn’t enough. To their credit, they did cut their deficit by more than half before the closing of the game.
Five Celtics would go onto score in double-digits as the C’s win, 105-89, in the second of a three-game road trip.
The Celtics shot 48.8 percent from the field, while the Bulls improved to 39.5 percent after a tough first half. And the C’s finished the game out-rebounding the Bulls by an impressive 53-to-26 mark.
Over the last five games, the C’s bench has averaged 56 points and tonight they’d go onto drop 44 points, with Terry Rozier III leading the way with 13 points and seven assists.
Greg Monroe seems to be fitting in nicely here in Boston after sniffing a double-double off the bench with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Four-year vet, Shane Larkin did just fine filling in for Irving. He’d finish the night with nine points (3-3 3PT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals, while committing only one turnover at the point.
Larkin with the dime to Theis ???? pic.twitter.com/LKDMAo8Ypn— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 6, 2018
The Celtics and Bulls have now met three times this season, with the Bulls taking the first out in Chicago, 108-85, and the C’s taking the second at home, 117-92. The C’s and Bulls will meet again in early April.
UP NEXT: The Celtics (45-20) play the last of their three-game road trip on Thursday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (38-28). Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com