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Gordon, Chandler step up down stretch: The Celtics/Bulls game stories

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From the Sun-Times:
BOSTON -- With 31 victories and only 12 games left in the regular season, the Bulls can't come close to matching last season's 47 wins. But if they're going to seize the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they know they must produce down the stretch in a manner reminiscent of a year ago.

That certainly was the case Sunday, when the Bulls shrugged off a lackluster effort for three quarters to rally behind Ben Gordon's offense and Tyson Chandler's defense for a 101-97 victory over the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Gordon, overcoming a poor shooting game, scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 3:07 to give the Bulls the lead. Chandler (10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots) preserved it with two impressive blocks on Celtics star Paul Pierce (game-high 24 points).
On the block:

Boston set up a play for Pierce at the other end, but Chandler came off the ball for another block. Gordon gathered the loose ball and was fouled with 16.7 seconds to play. The Bulls iced the game with four consecutive free throws.

Pierce, who was 8-for-21 from the field, missed his last eight attempts and scored only two points in the fourth quarter.

''I knew it was the point of the game where [Pierce] was going to try to take over and get some buckets,'' Chandler said. ''He's a spinner, so I was just trying to time his spin and wait until he turned his back so I could sneak up on him.''
And Mike this morning has two stories:

Great in the Garden

BOSTON — Ben Gordon is renowned for playing well at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the NBA arena closest to his hometown of Mount Vernon, N.Y.

But Gordon did attend college in New England, so it only seemed logical that he had something in store for Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center.

“I knew I had one coming,” Gordon joked. “When they changed the name to the Garden, I knew it was going to be a good place for me to play.

Gordon’s outside shot was off for most of the game. But with the score tied, Gordon buried a 19-foot jumper from the top of the key with 23.2 seconds remaining, sending the Bulls to a vital 101-97 road win over the Boston Celtics
And more on that block:
“I knew exactly where he was going on the last couple of plays down,” Chandler said. “He’s really good, if he sees you, at drawing contact. My whole thing was to come from the weak side without him seeing me coming. Just meet his shot without even getting into his body.”

“Two of those blocks were big-league blocks,” said Bulls coach Scott Skiles. “We had a lot of big plays. It was just a gutsy win. That spurt by them at the end of the third could have done us in, but our guys hung in there.”
His second story:

Gimpy Duhon gets job done

BOSTON — Chris Duhon temporarily left Sunday’s game with about five minutes remaining after he dove out of bounds to save a defensive rebound and banged his left knee on a chair.

“I just kneed the chair straight on and it was just something that stung for a little bit,” he said.

About two minutes later, Duhon returned to the floor and went back to his assignment of guarding Celtics star Paul Pierce.

Despite a 5-inch height disadvantage, Duhon got the job done as Pierce (24 points) hit just 1 of 10 shots in the fourth quarter.
and this bit on the NCAA:

An eye on the Huskies: Ben Gordon did have Connecticut on his mind while playing against the Celtics on Sunday. UConn’s loss to George Mason ended during the second quarter of the Bulls’ game.

“The fans were letting me know the score,” Gordon said. “Every time there was a time out, they were like, ‘UConn’s tied in overtime."
And Pax had been at the Washington regional on Friday.
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Bob Folton in the Tribune:

Chandler a 1-man swat team

BOSTON -- There have been precious few occasions this season when the Bulls have resembled the playoff team from last season.

Sunday, however, was one of them, and it could serve as a springboard into a second consecutive postseason appearance.

In the first half I was letting them off the hook by shooting too many jump shots," said Gordon, who was just 2-for-8 from the floor in the first half. "I just tried to be more aggressive and get to the basket."

Gordon's two free throws with 2:13 left gave the Bulls their first lead at 93-91. Two jumpers by Boston's Wally Szczerbiak tied the game at 95-95 before Gordon drained a 19-footer to give the Bulls the lead for good with 23.2 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Pierce drove hard to the basket but had his dunk attempt emphatically rejected by Chandler.

"We just feel fortunate to win," Hinrich said. "In the fourth quarter we started playing and making stops and making plays."
From Boston this morning:
Celtics Bull-dozed at end

Any kind of loss would have hurt. But the Celtics could not have scripted one more painfully disappointing than what transpired yesterday at TD Banknorth Garden.

There was something about the amateurish collapse by Boston in the closing minutes that felt like a punch in the gut, and looked like it on the players' faces. The Celtics' spectacular failure in a sold-out arena with so much at stake shook the team to its core, making pronouncements of progress over the last month seem exaggerated at best.
One of the reasons yesterday's loss hurt so much was because it forced the Celtics to face the reality of their situation. They may not be mathematically eliminated, but nothing they did against the Bulls or in 70 previous contests makes their odds of reaching the postseason any good.
The Celtics predictably trusted Pierce to make a tying shot, but he ran into Chandler while attempting a layup. For the second time down the stretch, Chandler recorded a big block on Pierce. The quick-thinking captain sent Gordon to the line, but that was not a winning strategy. The Bulls easily converted their four final free throws (two from Gordon, two from Kirk Hinrich), erasing any comeback hopes the Celtics might have had after Delonte West hit a 15-footer with 5.6 seconds remaining.
And this story from the Boston Herald:

C’s plans don’t add up -- Postseason hopes now dim

This one required a fourth-quarter fold of epic proportions, and the C’s turned the trick by squandering a 12-point lead in a most inelegant way.

“We let them be the aggressor instead of us,” said Paul Pierce after missing his last nine shots in the fateful fourth. “They took it to us. They punched us, and we didn’t punch back. That’s pretty much it.”

Said coach Doc Rivers: “I told them before the game I thought the team that went and took it was the team that was going to win the game, and I thought that was the difference. I thought we got very timid down the stretch. (We) stopped moving the ball, which was very clear. And they made plays.
Pierce said his club had shot itself in the foot by failing to pick up ground on the Sixers and Bulls, and it’s clear the ammunition they used in the Celtic-on-Celtic crime was the turnover. The Green gave the ball away 21 times for 32 Chicago points.
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Keep up the good work Narek, much respect!
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