Basketball

Bulls on a rampage in play-offs

Eighth seeds Chicago shock top-ranked Boston again to take 2-0 lead in first-round series

EASTERN CONFERENCE, 
1ST RD PLAY-OFFS
BOSTON CELTICS CHICAGO BULLS
97 111
  • Chicago lead best-of-seven series 2-0

The Chicago Bulls needed a 7-3 finish and a tie-breaker just to get into the NBA play-offs as the eighth seeds.

Now, the Bulls are in complete control of their first-round Eastern Conference series against the top-seeded Boston Celtics.

Chicago are the first No. 8 seeds to take a 2-0 lead in a first-round series - and the Bulls did it on the road.

"I'm not surprised because everybody's so locked in right now," Jimmy Butler said after his 22 points, eight rebounds and four steals helped the Bulls earn a 111-97 victory over Boston in Game Two yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"Everybody's putting in extra work, watching that film, working on their game. And that's where your confidence always comes from."

It also helps that Rajon Rondo is playing like vintage Rondo, the point guard who quarterbacked the Celtics' title run in 2008.

He just missed out on his 11th play-off triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.

The big Game Two effort followed a Game One in which Rondo contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

"It's key when you have a point guard like him that controls the whole game - you've just got to play," said Dwyane Wade, who had 22 points, eight of them coming in a 10-0 spurt that put away Game Two.

"Tonight, our job was easy. We just had to play. As I told him, 'Way to run your team'."

Said Rondo: "For the play-offs, for me in particular, you get a couple extra days of rest for the body.

"I get three or four days of preparation on a team, lock into their game plan, and I'm playing plus minutes.

"I don't know what it is. I just try to lock in and... do what I can for my team."

The Bulls, 41-41 in the regular season, are attempting to become the sixth No. 8 seeds to upset a No. 1 in the first round - and the first since the Philadelphia 76ers upset Chicago in the 2012 play-offs.

Game Three is in Chicago on Saturday morning as the Celtics face the possibility of not playing in front of their home fans again this season.

Those fans booed their team on more than one occasion yesterday morning, including a loud chorus as the final seconds ticked off.

"(The Bulls) came in and took (it), and we have to do the same thing," said Boston's Jae Crowder.

"Take it one game at a time and try to get Game Three."

The Bulls used several quick spurts to control the game, the last one the 10-0 burst that built a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Six Bulls finished in double figures, with Robin Lopez scoring 18, Paul Zipser 16 off the bench and Nikola Mirotic 13.

Butler also posted eight rebounds and eight assists.

Lopez was 8-of-11 from the floor, most of it from outside, and he also grabbed eight boards.

Isaiah Thomas, who will fly to Tacoma today to attend the funeral of his younger sister, Chyna, who was killed in a road accident, had an off-night.

He scored 20 points but was just 6-of-15 from the floor, including one-of-five from three-point range.

Thomas missed six of his 13 free-throws, had two assists and committed five turnovers. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  • Toronto Raptors 106 Milwaukee Bucks 100 (Series tied at 1-1)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  • LA Clippers 99 Utah Jazz 91 
(Series tied at 1-1)
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