Originally written on State Of The Celtics  |  Last updated 11/12/14

The Celtics play like garbage in the first half, digging themselves a hole so deep that it's quickly filling up with liquid hot magma. Doc Rivers reads them the riot act and the team comes on like gangbusters in the third quarter, playing tremendous defense, moving the ball and not settling for isolations. They get this close to breaking through and taking the lead before running out of gas in the fourth quarter and slowly fading into obscurity.

Stop me if you've heard this before.

It was the same old, same old for the Celtics tonight. It might have worked against Detroit. It might have worked against Washington. It might have worked against New Jersey. But this was the Chicago Bulls, arguably the best basketball team on the planet right now. You can't score 13 points in the first quarter, shoot 33 percent in the first half, dig yourself into a 19-point halftime deficit and expect to come back and beat a team sporting the reigning MVP and one of the best defenses you'll find in the league.

But the Celtics almost did, and I'm not really sure how. On the surface, it looks pretty simple how they made their big run to cut the Chicago lead to a single point. Boston got stops on defense and moved the ball on offense. That's obvious. What I don't know is why everything changed at halftime. The Celtics looked like a completely different team throughout the third quarter. It was like they flipped that proverbial switch and everything started clicking for them. I don't understand what took them so long to get going and why this didn't happen, oh I don't know, at the opening tip. Then again, if I had those answers I'd probably be making millions as an NBA head coach instead of typing these game recaps.

Once Derrick Rose got going in the fourth quarter, there was nothing left to do but turn out the lights. He took over. He was lethal from every spot on the floor. He played like the reigning MVP. He sucked the momentum and the air out of the Garden and single-handedly stepped on the Celtics' throats. Rose had been un-Rose-like (meaning he played well, just not out of his mind) up until the final frame when his team needed him to show up and carry them home. That's what he did. That's what players like that are supposed to do.

In the end, the Celtics suffered through another lackluster game from both Paul Pierce (13 points on 3-12 shooting) and Kevin Garnett (8 points on 4-11 shooting) and asked Rajon Rondo to do pretty much everything. Rondo was fantastic all night, Mickael Pietrus had another great game off the bench as a defensive nuisance and a guy who loves taking the big shot and Avery Bradley was phenomenal defensively on Rose in the second half. When the Celtics were going, they were so much fun to watch. It was poetry in motion.

When the Celtics weren't going, we got what we saw in the first half and it was enough to kill their chances at pulling this one out. Now they're 4-6 and get to play the tail end of a back-to-back in Indiana on Saturday.

Note: Mike Petraglia of WEEI reported that Kevin Garnett was limping around the Celtics' locker room with ice on his left ankle after the game. Great news to hear with another game in less than 24 hours.

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