Celtics take vital Game 3
Boston silences Chicago to cut deficit in half
Al Horford had 18 points and eight rebounds, Isaiah Thomas scored 16 points, and the top-seeded Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls, 104-87, Friday night after dropping the first two games in this Eastern Conference opening-round series at home.
The Celtics pulled away after a 20-point lead shrunk to one early in the third quarter and put themselves in position to tie a series that was in danger of slipping away from them. Game 4 is Sunday in Chicago.
Dwyane Wade scored 18 for Chicago. Jimmy Butler had 14 points on 7-of-21 shooting, and the offense simply didn’t click the way it had been, with Rajon Rondo out indefinitely with a broken right thumb. Chicago shot about 39 percent and committed 18 turnovers.
Thomas, grieving the death of his sister in a car accident last week, rejoined the team after spending time with his family in Tacoma, Wash.
He scored eight points in the third quarter, helping the Celtics regain control. Jae Crowder finished with 16 points. Avery Bradley scored 15 and hit four of Boston’s 17 3-pointers.
The Celtics’ lead was down to 44-43 early in the third when Thomas hit Horford for an alley-oop dunk and converted back-to-back 3-pointers. Boston maintained a comfortable edge after that.
The Celtics led by 18 after hitting 7 of 11 3-pointers in the first quarter and were up, 37-17, early in the second before the Bulls jumped back into it.
They had the crowd rocking in the closing minute of the half. Nikola Mirotic nailed a 3, cutting it to 4441, and pointed toward the sky. Wade then blocked Bradley’s 3, causing a shotclock violation with 4.7 seconds left, before Butler missed a desperation 3 for Chicago as time expired.
Kevin Durant participated in a light practice with the Golden State Warriors and was still listed as questionable to play Saturday in Game 3 of the playoffs at Portland because of a strained left calf. He appeared to be moving well while doing shooting work alongside Stephen Curry after the workout, though coach Steve Kerr doesn’t plan to play Durant until he’s been deemed fully healthy without risk of making the injury worse. Kerr said Friday: “I’m not ready to say he’s 100 percent, so as long he’s not 100 percent, we’ve got to be cautious and make the right decision.” Durant injured the calf in the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 victory against the Trail Blazers but said Friday he’s unsure how he did so. As frustrated as he is to be injured again, Durant said he doesn’t want to cause himself to miss extended time by rushing back. … The Trail Blazers upgraded center Jusuf Nurkic to doubtful for Game 3 of their playoff series against the Warriors. Nurkic missed the final seven games of the regular season and the first two playoff games at Golden State because of a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg. … The Sacramento Kings hired Scott Perry to be executive vice president of basketball operations. The team said Perry will report to general manager Vlade Divac and assist in all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the Kings front office under the deal announced Friday. Perry spent the past five seasons in a similar capacity with Orlando.