For the first three quarters of Tuesday's game between Boston and Chicago, the two teams were evenly matched and narrowly separated. Going into the fourth quarter, the Bulls held a nine-point lead, but the third quarter had been close, and the final 12 minutes were likely to be tight.
That's not exactly how it turned out, however.
The Celtics stumbled and fell hard in the final period of play, while the Bulls pulled away for what ended up being an easy 100-89 win in Chicago. Joakim Noah triple-doubled and six Bulls scored in double figures as Chicago opened the fourth on a 16-5 run and led by as many as 20 points in the victory.
The Bulls got rolling in the fourth thanks to their bench, particularly Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson. Gibson scored seven of his 13 points in the quarter, but it was the former Celtic Robinson who put the torch to his old team. The pint-sized guard hit three three-pointers en route to 12 fourth-quarter points. Robinson's first long-distance shot of the period gave the Bulls an 11-point lead with 10:25 left, which was as close as Boston would get for the rest of the game.
Deng and Carlos Boozer were the top scorers for Chicago with 21 points each; Boozer added 12 rebounds. Noah racked up 11 points, 13 boards and 10 assists. Robinson scored 18 points on five threes. For Boston, Rajon Rondo had 26 points and eight assists. Paul Pierce scored 16, but the Celtics got just 10 points and eight rebounds from Kevin Garnett. Worse, the bench notched just 16 points on the night.
The Bulls will next head to New York for a game Dec. 21, while the Celtics head home for a game against Cleveland Dec. 19.