Derrick Rose took off running, with only the open floor to beat and a windmill or reverse dunk — or both at the same time — in his immediate future. But as Rose neared the hoop, he lost possession of the ball and was forced to lay it in rather than slam it home. Oh, well. It was just about the only thing he did wrong all night.
Rose finished with 39 points (on 15-22 shooting), seven assists and five rebounds, doing his excessive damage on an assortment of off-balance midrange jumpers and explosions to the rim in the Bulls’ 101-93 victory against the Celtics. Rose was equal parts fury and finesse, dominating Rajon Rondo (four points, six assists, 2-10 shooting) like Rondo was nothing but a high-schooler.
And Kirk Hinrich was Robin to Rose’s Batman. Hinrich had 30 points — I’ll repeat, Kirk. Hinrich. Had. 30. Points. — and drained a number of clutch three-pointers to keep the lead just out of the Boston’s reach. It was the most points Hinrich had scored since dropping 31 points on the Milwaukee Bucks, way back on February 18, 2009.
The superhero performances from Rose and Hinrich overshadowed big nights from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Pierce looked spry, getting to the hoop on many occasions and pulling up for his patented midrange jumper on many others. It used to be expected of Pierce, night in and night out, to carry the scoring load, but his year has been as up-and-down as the team’s. It was unexpected but nice to see him so aggressive, patient and potent all at the same time, and Pierce has now had two vintage games in a row. And Allen did what Allen does; he made shots and smoothly took the ball to the basket. Does any other man who ever lived make a finger roll look so breathtakingly gorgeous?
Beyond those two shining Celtics, there was little to cheer for. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and nine rebounds, but missed a number of chippies and had to leave during the first half to get three stiches above his left eye. Kendrick Perkins snagged 11 rebounds, but only finished with two points and picked up his 15th technical foul of the season. Rasheed Wallace also scored only two points. Well four, I suppose, if you count the bucket he accidentally scored for the Bulls.
- The loss gave Boston the 4th seed in the playoffs, and moved Chicago one step closer to qualifying.
- Joakim Noah finished with 16 rebounds.