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10 observations: Celtics blow out Bulls for second time

First game after All-Star break produces 39-point disparity from 3-point line

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls began post-All-Star break action with Thursday’s 129-112 loss to the NBA-leading Boston Celtics at the United Center.

It’s the Celtics’ seventh straight victory and, in their second blowout in two tries of this season series that has one March meeting remaining, emphatically showed the disparity gap between these teams.

"When they stepped it up in the third quarter, we weren't able to match that," Nikola Vucevic said.

Here are 10 observations:

---The shorthanded Bulls are going to lean on their primary scorers to get through a daunting schedule stretch. Through three quarters, DeMar DeRozan and Coby White combined for 9-for-27 shooting. They finished a combined 13-for-34. The Bulls need more from them.

---Jayson Tatum had five points at halftime but scored 15 of his 25 points in the third quarter as the Celtics ran away and hid. Boston turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

---Luke Kornet scored his first five baskets on dunks, running downcourt doing a celebratory move after one. After his second straight putback dunk in the fourth, White punched the basket stanchion in frustration and DeRozan received a technical foul.

---The Celtics take and make the most 3-pointers in the NBA, averaging 16.2 makes on 42.7 attempts. They took 3-pointers on their first four possessions and finished 23-for-37 from beyond the arc. They outscored the Bulls by 39 points from beyond the arc.

"That's what they do. They're a really good shooting team. Their whole starting five can really shoot it," Vucevic said. "We knew that was coming."

---Boston isn’t just an elite offensive team. They entered with the third-best defensive rating and blocked six of their 11 shots in the first quarter alone. Derrick White had three blocks in the opening period, including one emphatic instance while matched up with Vucevic in the post. White was everywhere with 28 points and five 3-pointers too.

---With all the perimeter scoring firepower, coach Billy Donovan returned to the starting lineup of White, Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, DeRozan and Vucevic.

---Here’s all you need to know about the Bulls’ current depth situation thanks to Torrey Craig suffering an injury over the All-Star break, joining Patrick Williams and Zach LaVine in street clothes: Julian Phillips was the sixth man.

---The Bulls assisted on 15 of their first 16 field goals and finished with 29 assists overall. Ayo Dosunmu posted six assists by halftime and reached at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a half for the first time in his career. Dosunmu played a strong game with 14 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

---Speaking of firsts, Vucevic scored 20 points in the first half, the first time he has ever posted a 20-point half in his career. But Vucevic didn’t score again until midway through the fourth---his only second-half points---and finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double.

"In the second quarter when I really got going, we were playing at a quicker pace and I was able to get a lot of my shots in the pocket, out of transition and screen-and-roll when their defense wasn't set," Vucevic said. "In the third quarter, with them making so many shots and us having to get the ball out of the paint, the game kind of slowed down. They got into us and took away stuff in the pocket. I have to look at it to see if I could've been more aggressive. But that's what it felt like."

---The night afforded Donovan yet another opportunity to see Al Horford, with whom he won consecutive NCAA titles at Florida in 2006 and 2007.

“I was very blessed and fortunate to be around him when he was young. But I would imagine he’s still probably doing the same things now. He has got an unbelievable ability to impact winning and impact the locker room. And the one thing that I think everybody would say about him as a teammate is he’s phenomenal,” Donovan said. “There’s no personal intention by him other than to win.”

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