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Celtics Take Control in Another Nail-Biter

Apr 28, 2009 – 11:30 PM
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Matt Watson

Matt Watson %BloggerTitle%

Paul PierceIt took a few extra minutes to pull it off, but the Celtics are once again in the driver's seat, defeating the Bulls 106-104 in overtime to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round matchup with Chicago. If you're surprised this game went down to the wire, well, how's that rock you've been hiding under? Four of the five games have been decided by three points or fewer, and three have gone longer than 48 minutes.

Rajon Rondo was once again phenomenal, coming just two boards shy of a triple-double (he finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds) but it was Paul Pierce who put this game on ice for the Celtics, scoring 14 of his 26 points after the third quarter, including Boston's final six points in overtime.
Celtics 106, Bulls 104: Recap | Box Score | Scoreboard

The Bulls, as you'd expect, had their chances late. Brad Miller had a chance to the game at the free throw line with two seconds remaining but missed both of his free throws. He missed his second attempt on purpose trying to create an opportunity for an offensive put-back, but the ball was called dead when he missed the rim completely, effectively sealing the win for the Celtics.

Oh, and remember how Ben Gordon was supposed to be questionable with a sore hamstring? He ended up playing 51 minutes, making up for a 6-21 performance from the field by shooting 11-12 from the free-throw line, including three straight to tie the game at 104 all after he was fouled by Tony Allen on a desperate three-point heave.

That was hardly Gordon's lone clutch moment of the night: he hit an off-balance 17-footer with 27 seconds left in regulation to give the Bulls a 93-91 lead. It was a ridiculously awkward looking shot that had Bulls fans everywhere cringing (even TNT announcer Doug Collins wondered aloud, "what is he doing?" as he released it) -- up until the moment it went through the net.

The Celtics are obviously in control of the series, but they still need to be careful heading into Chicago for Game 6 on Thursday. For one, Ray Allen continues to be terribly inconsistent: he managed all of 10 points in 26 minutes before fouling out with five and a half minutes left in the fourth. Allen has come up big twice in this series -- 30 points in Game 2 and 28 points in Game 4. In the other three games, he's barely averaging double-digits (10.6 points).

With him struggling through yet another off game, it took magnificent efforts from Rondo, Pierce, Glen Davis (21 points, six boards) and Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 19 boards, seven blocks) to squeak by with a two-point win in overtime. The bench combined to score just five points, and considering the elevation of Davis to the starting lineup and the loss of Leon Powe to injury, that may be all Boston can realistically expect from their reserves the rest of the way.
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