The Boston Celtics were playing some of their best basketball of the season coming into their Friday night matchup with the Chicago Bulls. Despite a stumble against the New Orleans Hornets the game before, Boston was in position to go 4-1 on their five game homestand and stake their claim to a stretch of seven wins in eight games. However some nights it just isn't in the cards. The Celtics have had their fair share of good fortune in Boston over the years, but despite a superhuman effort by Rajon Rondo, the Celtics were robbed of a win by sheer bad luck and incompetent officiating on Friday. If even one of the following moments had gone down even slightly differently, the Celtics would have come out winners:
Up by two with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Rondo inbounded to Paul Pierce who was immediately trapped by Joakihm Noah and Jimmy Butler. However, despite the fact that Noah had both his hands on Pierce's head, referee Marc Davis ruled a jump ball. After a season's worth of bad calls, this last and biggest eventually cost the Celtics the game. On the ensuing tip, the Bulls gained possession and Marco Belinelli sprinted down the court only to have the ball knocked away by Rondo in the paint. Yet the ball landed right in a wide open Kirk Hinrich's hands, who promptly burried a jumper with two seconds remaining that sent the game to overtime. The Celtics had the game won. The only thing that could have beaten them was missed free throws or a bad call. True to form Marc Davis made a bad call in the game's biggest moment.
With the Celtics trailing by one with under two minutes remaining in overtime, Rondo's running jump shot rimmed out. Rookie Jared Sullinger got a hand on the rebound, but he was held by Carlos Boozer. After the ball bounced off of Rondo's hands and into Butler's, Hinrich pushed Rondo head first into Butler's knee. Somehow Eli Roe ruled that this was a foul on Rondo, his sixth. Not only did this foul Rondo out of the game, it gave Butler a pair of free throws, which he knocked down to give Chicago a three point lead with 1:16 remaining. However, despite catching another gigantic break, the Bulls still couldn't finish Boston off.
The Celtics got back within one on a Kevin Garnett jumper and two Pierce free throws. However, Belinelli was awarded two shots from the charity strike after Jared Sullinger committed his sixth foul which re-gave the Bulls the lead. Later on in the game, after an absolutely horrid possession, in which Belinelli was forced into a desperation three pointer, the Celtics took the lead 99-98 on a Jason Terry jumper with 12.5 seconds remaining. The Celtics swarmed the Bulls on the ensuing possession, giving Noah and Boozer nowhere to go. Boozer threw a desperation pass to a cutting Belinelli who, after bobbling it, threw the ball at the rim while falling over backwards. It went right down the middle. The final dagger in a game full of them.
In Celtics101's book, this a win. The Celtics did not lose this game because they played poorly. They lost this game because every break went Chicago's way, and because Marc Davis and Eli Roe are incompetent. Now Boston needs to shake it off and get back to their winning ways. They take a relatively easy two game road trip to Detroit and then Cleveland, and they should be back in Boston looking for a three game winning streak when the New York Knicks arrive on Thursday.
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