BOSTON - Rajon Rondo's 16 first-half points sparked the Boston Celtics early, as they took control of the game in the early stages against one of the NBA's premier teams without their leader, Derrick Rose. Rondo and the Celtics regressed in the second quarter, though, but still took a 48-43 lead over the Bulls into halftime on Sunday at TD Garden.
Capitalizing on the fact that the Chicago Bulls were missing their best player (and the reigning league MVP), Derrick Rose, the Boston Celtics surged out of the gate and built a comfortable lead over the reigning Eastern Conference runner ups in the first quarter. Alas, like so many other runs for this team, it subsided in the second quarter.
Boston jumped ahead, 14-6, at the 7:21 mark of the opening quarter. Led by Rondo, the Celtics were able to establish a quick tempo in the game's opening minutes. But without Rose, the Bulls looked to other sources on offense. And they found them. Joakim Noah (12 points, six rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (10 points, five rebounds) had strong quarters and halves for Chicago on offense.
The Celtics led 28-23 after one quarter, but the Bulls weren't about to let the game get out of reach. Chicago used an 8-5 run to open the quarter, but the Celtics' reserves - JaJuan Johnson in particular -- did enough to keep Boston in the plus for the quarter. Both teams scored 20 points apiece in the second frame.
Kevin Garnett scored seven and both Chris Wilcox, who started in place of an injured Jermaine O'Neal, and rookie JaJuan Johnson finished the half with six points. Paul Pierce had four points in the opening half.
C.J. Watson, who started for Rose, had eight points and John Lucas scored five points off the bench in the half for the Bulls.