BOSTON -- The Bulls officially reached the halfway point of this disappointing season Monday night, turning in a familiar effort in a 113-101 loss to the Celtics.
A season that once held aspirations of playoff contention finds the Bulls on pace for 28 wins at the halfway mark, a far cry from the step forward they hoped to take in 2019-20. Winning teams continue to have their way with the Bulls (14-27), who fell to 1-16 against opponents with records above .500.
Boston blitzed the Bulls from the opening tip, beginning the game on a 21-9 run in a first quarter that saw the Bulls score a season-low 14 points. The Bulls never got much going in the first half, shooting just 34% from the field and going just 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. Defensively the Bulls were not much sharper, as the Celtics' playmakers picked apart the Bulls defense to find open shots and dunks.
Zach LaVine scored at least 30 points for the 10th time this season, however, finishing with 30 points and five rebounds.
The Celtics' Enes Kanter, who gave the Bulls fits with 17 points and 12 rebounds in their first matchup this season, took advantage once Daniel Gafford got himself into early foul trouble, which forced the Bulls to play Luke Kornet for extended minutes early. Kanter racked up 15 points in the first half on 7-of-8 shooting, though he did not score in the second half. After scoring 15 points in his last game, Kornet took a step back Monday night, as he was held scoreless in 22 minutes.
Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanen sat for nearly an entire quarter in favor of Thaddeus Young, who got more action from inside the 3-point line than he has become accustomed to during his Bulls tenure, and finished with 17 points. But the Bulls were reluctant to insert Markkanen at center while Young got hot.
After scoring just 37 points in the first half, the Bulls responded with a 34-point third quarter, which often has been a nightmare period this season. They made 13 of their 20 shots, led by Young's production in the paint.
But Boston pulled away in the fourth quarter, led by 21 points from Jayson Tatum and 19 from Jaylen Brown.
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