(WSCR) – There have been a couple of debuts this season that haven’t gone the Bulls’ way. In head coach Tom Thibodeau’s return to Boston, where he was an assistant last season, the Bulls lost 110-105 in OT. In Carlos Boozer’s long awaited Bulls debut on Wednesday night, the Bulls were dominated by the Orlando Magic. Well tonight the Bulls might not be able to erase those losses from their record, but they can help get themselves back on track with their roster finally intact.
The Bulls were hoping the addition of Boozer would help them develop into one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
They evidently still have a long way to go before joining the ranks of the Boston Celtics.
The Bulls look to bounce back from an embarrassing loss in Boozer’s debut Friday night when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics, winners of five in a row.
Returning home from a 4-3 circus trip – its first winning record on the annual two-week journey since 1997 – Chicago (9-7) was eager to face Southeast Division-leading Orlando on Wednesday with Boozer finally in the lineup. The Bulls were eager to show that they could stack up against one of the East’s best teams, but were completely outplayed in a 107-78 loss.
Derrick Rose finished with a season-low 15 points – 10.8 fewer than his team-leading average – and Joakim Noah, second in the NBA with an average of 12.4 rebounds, failed to grab one in 25 minutes. Chicago was outrebounded by 23 and established a franchise low with 21 boards.
Boozer, who missed the preseason plus the start of the regular season because of a broken right hand, looked sluggish, finishing with five points and two rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I think our team (is) a lot better than we showed,” said Boozer, Chicago’s top summer free-agent acquisition. “We’re going to move forward.”
Chicago is hoping to move into the ranks of the conference’s elite teams with the Magic and Celtics. Although the Bulls pushed Boston to overtime in 110-105 loss Nov. 5, defeats like Wednesday’s makes it tougher for them to be considered a serious contender.
“We have to fight a lot harder,” Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau knows what it takes to win a title. Before being named Chicago’s coach over the summer, he was an assistant to Boston coach Doc Rivers for three seasons and was a part of the Celtics’ 2007-08 championship.
Rivers’ team is again playing at a championship level, tied atop the East with the Magic, and 8-1 at home.
The Celtics (14-4) received a bit of a scare Wednesday against Portland, blowing almost all of a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead before winning 99-95. Ray Allen missed his first five 3-point attempts before hitting one with 10.7 seconds left for the game’s final points.
“We didn’t go through the finish line,” said forward Paul Pierce, who matched a season best with 28 points. “We didn’t finish them off like we had the chance. Up 14 (actually 16), we could have pushed it to 20. I just thought we tried to let the time run out. I’m glad we ended up on the winning side of it.”
Boston has won five straight, thanks to some strong play from the frontcourt.
Kevin Garnett had 17 points Wednesday, while Glen Davis scored 16 and Shaquille O’Neal added 14. The Celtics have outscored opponents by 16.4 points in the paint during their winning streak, and now face a Chicago team that was outscored 46-26 in the post by Orlando.
Boston had seven players score in double figures in the first meeting with the Bulls. Allen led the way with 25 points.
Noah had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Rose added 18 points and nine assists.
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