Bulls trample depleted Celtics
CHICAGO – Agence France-Presse
Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points while Bobby Portis added 23 as the Bulls (6-20) stunned the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics.
Boston’s preparations had been jolted after star point guard Irving was ruled out with a thigh injury just before the game in Chicago.
With forward Marcus Morris also missing with a sore left knee, the Celtics were forced to field an under-strength team just 24 hours after facing Detroit on Dec. 10.
The Bulls exploited Boston’s makeshift line-up to full effect, with Mirotic producing a dominant display which also included eight rebounds.
David Nwaba had 13 points while Kris Dunn had 12 points for Chicago.
Al Horford led the Boston scoring with 15 points, one of five Celtics five players in double figures.
Boston fell to 23-6 with the defeat but remain secure on top of the Eastern Conference table with Toronto (17-7) their nearest rivals.
Boston had led 29-28 after the first quarter but Chicago romped clear in the second, surging into a 56-42 lead at the half.
Chicago managed to keep Boston at arm’s length through the third quarter, maintaining a 15-point cushion at 78-63 heading into the fourth.
Chicago kept up the pressure in the final quarter, outscoring Boston by eight points to close out a deserved win.