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Bulls go ice cold in fourth quarter as Celtics win 71-69

BostCeltics forward Jeff Green (8) drives basket through defense Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibs(22) center Joakim Noah (13) forward Jimmy

Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green (8) drives to the basket through the defense of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22), center Joakim Noah (13) and forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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Updated: February 13, 2013 9:10PM



BOSTON – Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau had dinner together on Tuesday night.

Head coach and his former assistant. Teacher and former student.

No word on who picked up the tab.

As far as who ended up paying on Wednesday night when the Celtics hosted the Bulls at the TF Garden, it was all Thibodeau, as he watched his team go ice cold in the fourth and head into the All-Star Break with two straight losses, while dropping four of their last five in the 71-69 loss.

Then again, it didn’t help the Bulls’ cause to have 22 turnovers and go scoreless for almost six minutes in the fourth, as they surrendered a seven-point lead with 10:34 left in the game.

As offensively challenged as the Bulls were, after they forced Boston in a five-second call out of timeout with 48.4 seconds left, Marco Belinelli hit a layup to cut the lead to just one. The two teams traded baskets, and when Paul Pierce made two free throws with 10 seconds left, the Bulls were forced into scramble time after Nate Robinson was forced to the line.

He missed his second free throw, and when Taj Gibson finally ended up with the ball, his desperation shot at the horn missed.

The Bulls were led by Belinelli’s 12 points, while Boston was led by 14 points by Brandon Bass.

Not that the Bulls (30-22) didn’t put them in good position to win the game through the first two quarters, as they battled back from a 24-15 first-quarter deficit to outscore Boston 21-11 in the second quarter and take a 36-35 lead into the half.

Thank the Bulls bench for that.

Of the 21 points scored in that second stanza, 19 were courtesy of the bench, led by Belinelli’s seven points. Even rookie Marquis Teague made an appearance, and was actually productive in his 12 minutes of work, scoring five points and handing out two assists, while giving starter Robinson a breather.

If the Celtics thought the going was rough in the second, they hadn’t seen anything yet, with the Bulls defense suffocating them to just eight points and taking a 49-43 lead into the fourth.

And it wouldn’t be a Celtics-Bulls game if Kevin Garnett and Joakim Noah didn’t have at least some type of incident.

The latest came at the start of the final 12 minutes when the exchanged elbows and arm slaps, until the whistle blew and Noah was given the foul. The reaction for Noah was to smile and clap in Garnett’s face.

It was after a Jan. 18 win in the Garden that Noah was again critical of Garnett and the way he carries himself on the court.

“[I was] just playing defense,” Noah said then. “Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He’s a helluva competitor. He’s always on some bulls---. Always on some bulls--- … Just trying to throw elbows. Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he’s a vet. He’s been doing this a long time, but it’s all right.’’

During the 2010 playoffs, Noah also took some shots at Garnett.

“He’s a dirty player, man,” Noah said at the time. “He’s a dirty player. That’s messed up, man ... I’m hurting right now because of an elbow he threw. It’s unbelievable. He’s a dirty player. It’s one thing to be competitive and compete and all that, but don’t be a dirty player.’’



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