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7 takeaways from the Chicago Bulls’ 121-107 win over the Boston Celtics that ended a 4-game skid, including Patrick Williams’ season-high night

The Chicago Bulls snapped a four-game skid with a 121-107 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night at United Center.

The win also ended a nine-game winning streak for the Celtics, who sit atop the Eastern Conference at 13-4.

Here are seven takeaways from the win.

1. Zach LaVine rebounded from his late benching against the Orlando Magic.

All eyes were on LaVine after being benched for the final minutes of Friday’s loss to the Magic in a worst 1-for-14 shooting night. The last time LaVine was benched in the similarly in 2019, he responded with a 49-point performance a night later.

LaVine’s response on Monday wasn’t quite as dramatic — he scored 22 points on 8-for-20 shooting. But he showed why he believed he had a place on the court in the final minutes of any game in sinking three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to stave off any chance of a comeback for the Celtics.

As he continues to rebuild his explosiveness after offseason knee surgery, LaVine showed flashes of his typical rebound with several high-flying dunks.

“I just went out there and played hard, took my shots,” LaVine said. “Even in the game I went 1 for 14, my shot was good. I arrive there. I’m missing shots that I don’t normally do, but I’m going to keep shooting with confidence, keep going down.

“My legs are starting to get better. I just try to be active, offensively, defensively. I think it shows and we got the win.

2. Patrick Williams recorded a season-best night in a confident performance.

Williams continued a steady increase in confidence and scoring, totaling 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

The Celtics dropped Williams early, challenging the young forward to take shots from long range. Williams responded by burying a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter to force the Celtics to defend him more tightly.

Williams eagerly attacked isolation opportunities against elite Celtics defenders such as Jayson Tatum throughout the game, capitalizing on the inadequacy of his combination of speed and length.

The performance comes on top of a growing contribution from Williams, who is averaging 9.2 points after a slow start. He’s scored in double figures in five of the last seven games.

3. The Bulls went through a series of slow starts to overtake the Celtics in the first quarter.

The Bulls have struggled early in games all season, constantly digging themselves into holes that force them to either attempt a late-game comeback or a searing loss.

Monday’s victory brought a dramatic shift from that pattern. The Bulls led 28-23 after the first quarter, taking advantage of the Celtics’ 27.3% shooting from the field and forcing six turnovers to quickly gain the upper hand.

The Bulls maintained that improved vigor throughout the first half, taking a 13-point lead into the locker room while blasting past and past the Celtics.

4. The Bulls can still hang on to the best.

The Bulls were often criticized last season for their inability to beat top teams in both conferences. They remain more competitive this season with their toughest competition including two wins over the Eastern Conference leaders Celtics.

Despite their 7-10 record and recent losing streak, the win bolstered confidence in the Bulls locker room that a winning record is within reach.

“I would rather go through our struggles now,” DeMar DeRozan said. “In games like this we realize that we can compete with anyone. I really believe that once we catch that rhythm, that confidence to play at a high level, it will be consistent.

5. Goran Dragić came out with a dart after a collision in the first quarter.

Dragić left with 2:38 left in the first quarter after a violent collision with Celtics forward Sam Hauser. Although the Bulls flagged him as doubtful to return with a left shoulder injury, Dragić returned midway through the second quarter.

The injury appeared to affect southpaw Dragić’s shooting. The veteran guard missed his only shot of the first half, a left elbow jumper. He played just under three minutes in the third quarter and then sat out for the rest of the game.

Coach Billy Donovan described the injury as a sting that affected Dragić’s neck, causing numbness in the back of his left arm. Dragić insisted he could stay in the match, but Donovan held him off as a precaution.

6. Andre Drummond continues to provide much-needed rebounds.

Drummond again showed his importance for the Bulls around the rim with a performance of 12 rebounds, including 10 in the first half. He continues to match the rebound of starting center Nikola Vučević, providing depth to the position that was desperately lacking last season.

With the Celtics missing starting center Robert Williams III, the Bulls managed to overpower the Celtics throughout the game, outscoring them in second chance points (11-8) and points in the paint (44-34).

7. The win galvanized the Bulls ahead of a six-game road streak.

The Bulls are hoping to build on the momentum of Monday’s victory created in a tough road trip featuring four teams above .500 plus defending champion Golden State Warriors.

The streak begins Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks (12-4), followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-10) on Friday. The journey continues with games against the Western Conference leaders Utah Jazz (12-7), Phoenix Suns (10-6), Sacramento Kings (9-6) and Warriors (8- 10).

The Bulls will no longer play at the United Center until they host the Washington Wizards (10-7) on December 7.


California Daily Newspapers

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