Celtics limp home to face 76ers


Trailing by just one with seconds left, the Bulls ran an iso for Jimmy Butler.

On Thursday night, the Boston Celtics led the Chicago Bulls by one point heading into the final possession of the game. With space cleared out, Butler eventually drove inside the arc, with Marcus Smarts still clinging to him.

"A foul is a foul", said Butler, who shot 9-of-20 from the field, 9-of-9 from the line and added seven assists.

Whether or not there was contact, it probably wasn't close enough to make that call.

"That's awful when it costs you a game you should have won", Boston's Isaiah Thomas said.

A brutal call by Zarba at the worst time.

Thomas can break Havlicek's record - set from November 17, 1971 through January 30, 1972 - at Chicago on Thursday night in Boston's final game before the All-Star break. All things considered, being six (games) in nine (days) I was proud of the way we competed.

The Boston Celtics enter NBA All-Star Weekend as winners of 11 of their last 13 games, but the way Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls ended will leave a sour taste in their mouths. The Butler-Thomas matchup was terrific theatre down the stretch, as Thomas scored 11 fourth-quarter points on 3-of-8 shooting while Butler had a crucial block on him with 1:10 left.

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Mavericks: Nowitzki's 26-point average against Boston coming into the game was the highest against any opponent for the 19th-year player.

The result was a 104-103 victory for the Bulls over the Celtics, who lost for only the second time in the last 13 games. He had only four in the third quarter but then came through again in the fourth.

Thomas managed to squirm around and under Butler for the go-ahead layup with 2:36 left, and after Butler missed a 3-point attempt, Thomas drew a foul attempting a 20-footer.

It seems like Smart makes an fantastic defensive play like this one each game.

Crowder, who went home for a family emergency, was back Monday night in Dallas, but rookie Jaylen Brown suffered a hip pointer at Utah and was out Monday and will miss the two games prior to the All-Star break. "I played great defense right there - I know I did". The Celtics led by no more than three until the final moments of the game.

"It's big for us", Marcus Smart said, according to Murphy.

The Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association as next Thursday's trade deadline approaches, but that hasn't changed Danny Ainge's approach.