Defensive-minded Bulls top Celts for sixth in a row

Fri Jan 8, 2016 1:55am EST
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(The Sports Xchange) - The Chicago Bulls are becoming an offensive juggernaut but they are quick to credit their defense for a season-high six-game winning streak and a rapid rise up the NBA's scoring rankings.

Once again the Bulls created an offensive surge by playing better defense in a 101-92 victory against the Boston Celtics on Thursday at the United Center.

Trailing 43-33 late in the second quarter, Chicago outscored Boston 15-4 in the final four minutes to grab a 48-47 halftime lead and roll to a comfortable win.

"That's what really won us the game," Jimmy Butler said of the Bulls' defensive uptick. "We were out there guarding, we rebounded, and we got a lot of easy baskets. When we're playing like that, we look really good out there."

Butler and Pau Gasol each had double-doubles to lead the Bulls (22-12), who had six players score in double figures -- including all five starters. Butler had 19 points and 10 assists, while Gasol totaled 17 points and 18 rebounds for his 19th double-double this season.

The Celtics (19-17) were coached by assistant Jay Larranaga while head coach Brad Stevens visited Andrew Smith, a former player of his from Butler University who is hospitalized in Indiana with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Larranaga, 40, got his first taste of running an NBA bench after joining the Celtics in 2012 as an assistant.

"Brad always says that the focus is to win the next game, one possession at a time, and that's really how I approached it," said Larranaga.

"I was obviously thinking about Brad and wanting to represent him well and our players ... wanting to do right by them."   Continued...

Jan 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second half at United Center. The Bulls won 101-92. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports