BOSTON — The eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls, getting a balanced attack led by a vintage Rajon Rondo floor game, cruised by the top-seeded Boston Celtics 111-97 on Tuesday night to take a stunning 2-0 lead in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The Bulls, 41-41 in the regular season, are attempting to become the sixth No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 in the first round — and the first since the Philadelphia 76ers upset Chicago in the 2012 playoffs.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is in Chicago on Friday night 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 Tuesday, including as the final seconds ticked off.
The Bulls, who made the playoffs by winning a tiebreaker with the Miami Heat, used several quick spurts to control this game, the last one a 10-0 burst to build a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade scored eight of those points.
Rondo, a former Celtic who won a championship in Boston, just missed the 11th triple-double of his playoff career with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. He was masterful in 40:22 of playing time, logging a plus-24 and registering five steals and three blocked shots.
Wade and Jimmy Butler led six Bulls in double figures with 22 points apiece, while Robin Lopez had 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.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas, who will fly to Tacoma, Wash., on Wednesday to attend the funeral for his younger sister, Chyna, who was killed in an automobile crash, had an off night. He scored 20 points but was just 6 of 15 from the floor, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range. Thomas missed 6 of 13 free-throw attempts, had two assists and committed five turnovers.
Jae Crowder scored 16 points as five Celtics reached double figures. However, Boston was just 10 of 33 from 3-point range. Marcus Smart had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley was reportedly deciding whether or not he will accompany G Isaiah Thomas to Tacoma, Wash., on Wednesday for the funeral of Thomas’ younger sister, Chyna. … Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg on Thomas pregame: “He’s as versatile a scorer as there is in our game right now.” … Thomas opened the game with a 3-pointer, the Celtics’ club-record 1,000th of the season. The previous mark was 825. … Thomas had his Game 1 technical foul rescinded by the league, but he got one 1:51 into Game 2. Chicago F Bobby Portis drew one in the second quarter.