CHICAGO (AP) — Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 14 assists, and the Boston Celtics won their 10th straight, beating the struggling Chicago Bulls 106-80 on Saturday.
Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House scored 15 apiece. Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Pierce scored 14 even though he sustained a stinger on his right shoulder and hit just 4 of 12 shots.
Boston scored 10 straight late in the third quarter, making it a 20-point game and sending the Bulls to their 10th loss in 12 games.
Derrick Rose scored 19 for Chicago. Luol Deng added 17 but missed 4 of 6 free throws late in the third quarter, and the Bulls capped a particularly brutal seven-day stretch with another blowout loss. They were routed by Toronto and Atlanta and fell to lowly New Jersey in between, and after an overtime win over Golden State on Friday, they watched Boston run away with this one in the second half.
Chicago went the final 6:18 of the third quarter without a field goal and shot 32.6 percent overall. With a 71-61 lead, Pierce hit two free throws to start a 10-0 run that Garnett capped with an alley-oop layup from Rondo with 1:26 left in the quarter.
The Bulls hardly resemble the team that pushed Boston to seven games before losing a thrilling first-round playoff series last season, albeit with Garnett sidelined by an injured right knee. Rose and Noah have questioned the team’s effort and the pressure on coach Vinny Del Negro is mounting.
The Celtics, meanwhile, look more like the team that won the championship than the one that struggled to get by Chicago last season, settling in after a volatile start.
Things got testy about 3½ minutes into the game when Miller basically clotheslined a driving Rondo, who gave him a bloody mouth in the playoffs. That delighted the crowd, even if it resulted in a flagrant foul.
NOTES: Boston has not lost since falling 83-78 to Orlando on Nov. 20. … The Celtics went from losing a club-record 18 in a row in 2006-07 to winning the championship next year, so it’s no surprise that coach Doc Rivers endorsed Del Negro. "Listen, I believe this will work out for him," Rivers said. "I know what he can do. I coached against him last year in the playoffs, and I just hope he gets a chance to do it." For Rivers, it helped that the Celtics landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before their championship season. The Bulls have been hit by injuries and lackadaisical play overall. … Rondo was having a little fun at his coach’s expense after Kentucky, his school, beat Indiana on Saturday. Rivers’ son Jeremiah plays for the Hoosiers. "I can’t even tell you how hard Rondo’s been the last three hours," Doc Rivers said. "That’s all right. I control the minutes." … The Bulls go from hosting the Eastern Conference leader to the Western Conference leader when the Los Angeles Lakers visit on Tuesday.