BOSTON — The Boston Celtics blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter but held on for a 107-100 victory over the previously undefeated Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Bulls (3-1) tied the score at 100 with a late 6-0 run but were shut out in the final 1:57.
One free throw by Amir Johnson and — after Nikola Mirotic missed two free throws with 1:36 left — a circus drive by Isaiah Thomas gave Boston (3-1) a three-point lead.
After former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo shot as airball on one end for the Bulls, the Celtics used an Avery Bradley offensive rebound and a runner by Marcus Smart to put the game away.
Johnson, a veteran who has made his living near the basket, hit his first four 3-pointers of the season in a 16-point third quarter that seemingly put Boston in control. He finished with 23 points and six rebounds.
Johnson was 0-for-1 from 3-point range in the first three games of the season and had made 58 treys in his 12-year career before Wednesday.
The Celtics, who got Smart back from an ankle sprain back for the game, were already missing Al Horford (concussion) and Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) and then lost Jae Crowder to a left ankle sprain in the second quarter.
Johnson and Thomas were able to carry the Celtics (3-1) offensively — Thomas with 23 points and 10 assists. Bradley had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Tyler Zeller, starting for Horford, hit the first five points of the fourth quarter to give Boston its 16-point lead with 10:42 left.
Jimmy Butler, who led the Chicago charge, finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Mirotic added 17 points and Dwyane Wade 15.
Rondo, playing his fifth game against his former team, added 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists but four of his team’s 19 turnovers.
Crowder went to the floor just as Thomas was hitting 3-pointer to put Boston ahead 50-43. Crowder remained on the floor in pain as play went down to the other end.
After the whistle, Crowder got up and hopped on his right foot all the way into the corner and down the tunnel heading toward the locker room.
Crowder had 10 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.
The Celtics were 14 of 32 from 3-point range and had just 12 turnovers.
NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley, doubtful because of a lingering right shoulder problem, played after receiving a cortisone shot. … The Bulls were missing G Michael Carter-Williams, expected to be out 4-6 weeks with a left knee bone bruise after it was feared he might be lost for his season when he got hurt Monday. … F Doug McDermott suffered a concussion Monday. … The Celtics got G Marcus Smart (ankle) back after he missed the first three games, but F Kelly Olynyk still wasn’t ready after offseason shoulder surgery. … The Celtics were to fly out after the game for Cleveland, where they were set to stay in the same hotel as the Chicago Cubs before playing the Cavaliers on Thursday night. The Bulls host the New York Knicks on Friday night. … Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg before the game: “For the five people who will be watching our game … “