CHICAGO (AP) — Luol Deng scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and Joakim Noah added 17 points and nine rebounds to rally the Chicago Bulls to a 93-86 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
The Bulls again played without Derrick Rose, out due to a strained groin for the 12th consecutive game. Chicago, which has been without Rose for 22 games this season, improved to 15-7 in his absence — including 8-4 during the latest stretch.
The Bulls rallied from 13 points down in the first half and pulled away in the fourth quarter to end its first two-game losing streak of the season. Trailing by 11 at halftime, Chicago outscored Boston 55-37 after the break.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points for Boston, who has lost two in a row after a winning a season-high five straight. Pierce had only one point in the fourth quarter.
Rose, who last played March 12 in a win against New York, was a game-time decision after practicing on Wednesday. He took contact for the first time since the injury and afterwards was optimistic he will be able to play against the Knicks on Sunday.
Leading 74-73 in the fourth, Taj Gibson and Deng had back-to-back baskets, and after Avery Bradley’s steal and layup for Boston, Kyle Korver made a 3 to give Chicago a 81-75 lead with about 7 minutes remaining.
Later in the quarter, Deng had eight points during a 10-4 run that was capped by Carlos Boozer’s dunk to put the Bulls up 91-81 with 1:42 left.
The Celtics gave the Bulls a little scare in the final two minutes. Rajon Rondo had a breakaway layup and Ray Allen’s 3 was changed to a 2-point basket after a replay, pulling Boston to 91-86 with 42.3 left. Rondo missed a 3 with 10 seconds left that would’ve cut the Celtics’ deficit to three points.
C.J. Watson finished with 15 points and Boozer had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago.
Trailing 56-47 with 8:10 left in the third quarter, the Bulls scored eight straight points to cut Boston’s lead to one. After Brandon Bass’ putback dunk, Watson made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Chicago a 61-58 lead with 3:42 to go in the period.
Leading 38-33, the Celtics went on a 11-3 run late in the second quarter, capped by Rondo’s runner that gave the Celtics a 13-point lead. Watson made two free throws to cut the Celtics lead to 49-38 at halftime.
Rondo had 10 points and 12 assists for Boston after an 87-86 loss to the Spurs at home on Wednesday night.
Pierce led the Celtics with 17 points in the first half and Rondo added eight points and seven assists.
NOTES: Allen came off the bench for the fifth time in his career. He scored 14 points. Before playing on Wednesday, Allen missed six games with a sore right ankle. … The Bulls signed G Mike James for the remainder of the season.
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