By Dan Bernstein– senior columnist

(CBS) Closer this time just ended up being more disheartening for a Bulls team left without much to say.

They were more competitive from the start Wednesday night, not allowing the rejuvenated Celtics to feed off of any home-court excitement in what both teams considered a must-win game. The Bulls played them close through three full quarters, their ragtag lineups holding strong enough while Dwyane Wade found much of what he still may have left.

The Bulls shot 50 percent and held the Celtics to 43.2 percent. The Bulls won the rebounding battle 42-38 and matched their opponent in 3-pointers made. And they still lost 108-97 in Game 5 to now face a 3-2 series deficit.

The Bulls lost because they couldn’t take care of the ball, turning it over 16 times. More importantly, their fallback of knowing they had the best player involved in the series ceased to matter when Jimmy Butler disappeared. All his pregame trash-talk culminated in 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting, just one free throw attempt (which he missed) and no points in the deciding fourth quarter.

Not having Rajon Rondo hurts the Bulls, but it’s not enough reason why the Celtics were able to string together baskets and defensive stops when it mattered most. This wasn’t a case where the Bulls can retreat to their tired buzzwords of energy and effort to explain how they allowed a playoff game to be wrested from their grasp.

The better team is winning now.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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