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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 2nd (All times Eastern)

Boston Celtics (13-18) at Chicago Bulls (12-18), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Two struggling former Eastern Conference powerhouses will try to get on track Thursday night when the Boston Celtics visit the Chicago Bulls.

Both teams are unimpressive in the win-loss department, but the Celtics are just 2 1/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors in the woeful Atlantic Division.

The Bulls are well behind the Indiana Pacers in the Central, but have won three of their last five. They are on game two of a four-game homestand, which got off on the wrong foot Tuesday night with an 85-79 setback to the Raptors.

Luol Deng scored 16 points and Jimmy Butler finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which has lost six of its last nine. Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Bulls.

The Bulls led by five heading into the fourth quarter, but got thumped 28-17 over the final 12 minutes.

"The fourth quarter has to be your best quarter. The fourth quarter is different," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "It requires a different intensity. Your decisions have to be quicker. I thought we had a lot of plays in the paint we just have to finish stronger. We can't just flip the ball up there. We're capable of doing better."

The Celtics have lost four of their last five games and play six of their next seven outside of Beantown. They'll host the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, then hit the road for five straight on the west coast.

On Tuesday, Boston fell to the Atlanta Hawks, 92-91.

Atlanta's Jeff Teague made a pair of free throws with 1:30 left and that resulted in the final margin, as both teams came up empty the rest of the way. Jordan Crawford missed two shots in the final seconds for the Celtics, losers of their last two on the road.

"Jordan lives for that," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I think he'll probably beat himself up over it, but that's OK. We play again on Thursday."

The loss spoiled Kelly Olynyk's career-best 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting off Boston's bench. Kris Humphries finished with 18 points and 10 boards, also off the bench, as the Celtics reserves outscored their counterparts, 56-16.

The Celtics starters - Crawford, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley - combined for just 35 points on 12-for-47 shooting. Sullinger did have 10 rebounds.

Boston and Chicago split last season's four matchups, although the Celtics are just 1-6 in their last seven in the Windy City.

01/02 10:19:18 ET

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TV
  • SEC: Arkansas at Missouri

    Tomorrow at 2:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tomorrow at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 78
UCLA 56
4th
TEXAM 10
LSU 20
 
4th
TEX 10
TCU 27
 
Final
TENN 64
SCU 57
Final
RMU 71
LAMON 54
Final
BUT 46
OKLA 59
Final
BRO 58
PEAY 79
Final
UTEP 62
PRIN 56
Final
CHAT 78
CCAR 67
Final
RIU 60
KU 76
Final
USCU 68
FIU 53
Final
GEOR 65
WISC 68
Final
USB 73
LIU 54
Final
XAV 82
SDU 71
Final
INDST 62
ILL 88
Final
WRST 62
CSFU 67
Final
STJOE 59
WKENT 62
Final
RIDE 45
MSU 77
Final
UNC 78
UCLA 56
2nd
WMICH 51
LBSU 59
 
2nd
GT 49
MARQ 56
 
2nd
PVU 28
STEPH 39
 
Half
MERC 33
RICE 28
 
Half
UF 27
UAB 22
 
11:00pm Tonight
WASH
SJST
11:59pm Tonight
MEM
BAY
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
WASU
3rd
NAS 0
EDM 0
 
Final
DET 34
CHI 17
Final
DAL 10
PHI 33
3rd
SFX 0
SEA 16