Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are two of the NBA's premier point guard. Yet on Thursday night, Rondo played like a reserve while Rose played like an MVP-to-be. Put two and two together, and you have a Bulls' victory.
Rose showed exactly why he is the league's presumed Most Valuable Player, finishing with 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting and eight assists as Chicago toppled Boston, 97-81, on Thursday night at the United Center.
Boston (54-24) fell four games begin Chicago (58-20) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning that the Celtics will almost certainly finish second or lower in the conference.
After falling behind 26-18 after one quarter, the Celtics outscored the Bulls, 25-22, in the second quarter to cut their halftime deficit to 48-43. Boston scored 17 in the third quarter while holding Chicago to 13 points, cutting the lead to one entering the fourth. Rose and company outscored Boston, 26-21, in the fourth to claim victory.
Rondo totaled seven points on 3-of-10 shooting and dished out six assists for Boston, which shot 38.4 percent in the losing effort. Paul Pierce scored 15 points, Kevin Garnett had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Ray Allen scored seven on 3-of-11 shooting for the Celtics.
Jeff Green led the Celtics' bench scoring with 10 points. Delonte West scored nine, Glen Davis had eight points and Nenad Krstic chipped in with six points off the bench for Boston.
Troy Murphy, who returned to action for the first time since suffering an ankle injury during practice last month, finished with two points in three minutes for the Celtics.
Luol Deng scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds and Carlos Boozer added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Chicago, which made 37-of-78 field goals to shoot 47.4 percent.
Boston returns to the hardwood on Friday when it hosts Washington at 7:30 p.m. EDT.