Boston Celtics (13-18) at Chicago Bulls (12-18), 8 p.m. (ET)
(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.
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Joakim Noah fell just shy of a triple-double but nonetheless helped the Chicago Bulls to a thorough 94-82 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Noah totaled 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists while Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng chipped in with 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Chicago, which never trailed in the second half and picked up its fourth win in the last six games.
Boston fell for the fifth time in six games despite Jordan Crawford pouring in a game-high 22 points and handing out seven assists. Jared Sullinger added 11 points and 11 boards in the setback.
There were 12 lead changes in the first half, and the largest margin for either team was just six points.
Chicago, which led 48-45 at the break, changed the back-and-forth affair with a strong defensive third quarter. Boston scored just 17 points in the frame and trailed by as many as 10 after Noah scored off an offensive rebound to put the Bulls on top, 61-51, near the midway point.
The Celtics pulled within four late in the third, but Chicago went on an 11-0 run that stretched into the fourth. Mike Dunleavy's 3-pointer early in the final stanza stretched the Bulls' advantage to 77-62, and the closest Boston got from there was 10.