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Bulls blow out Irving-less Celtics, 108-85

  • Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown, right, pressures Chicago Bulls' David Nwaba during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

  • Chicago Bulls' Bobby Portis signals after his three-point basket as Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis follows during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

  • Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, left, drives to the basket as Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

  • Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen, left, listens to Quincy Pondexter on the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast



Associated Press
Monday, December 11, 2017

CHICAGO — Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Bobby Portis added a career-high 23 and the Chicago Bulls blew out Boston 108-85 on Monday night with Celtics star Kyrie Irving sidelined because of a bruised left quadriceps.

Owners of the NBA’s worst record, the Bulls built an 18-point lead in the second quarter against the Eastern Conference leaders. And when Boston cut it to 12 in the fourth, the Bulls simply pulled away for their third straight win.

Mirotic made his first start of the season with leading scorer Lauri Markkanen sidelined because of back spasms. The 6-foot-10 forward hit 9 of 14 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in his third appearance.

Portis shot 10 of 15 and nailed all three 3-pointers.

Before Monday night, Mirotic and Portis had only made headlines together this season for the wrong reasons. Mirotic missed the first 23 games with facial fractures he suffered in a fight at practice with Portis.

Al Horford scored 15 for Boston. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier added 13 points apiece in the Celtics’ most lopsided loss of the season.

Boston got within 12 in the fourth quarter when Portis hit a jumper and Mirotic made a 3 to make it 90-73 with just under eight minutes left. The Bulls remained in control the rest of the way.

Mirotic came through with 16 points as Chicago grabbed a 56-42 halftime lead. Portis scored 15 in the first half.

The Bulls wiped out a four-point deficit and led 52-34 after a 24-2 run in the second quarter. Portis scored 10 during that stretch, nailing two 3s, and Mirotic finished it with a short hook.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said he doesn’t expect Irving to be out long, though he added: “Who knows with muscular injuries.” ... Stevens also said doctors will re-evaluate F Marcus Morris’ ailing left knee on Tuesday. Morris sat out for the second straight night and the third time in four games. He also missed the first eight games of the season.

Bulls: Markkanen participated in the morning shootaround and got treatment afterward. But coach Fred Hoiberg said the prized rookie’s back continued to tighten.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Host Denver on Wednesday.

Bulls: Host Utah on Wednesday.

Irving sits with bruise

Boston Celtics star guard Kyrie Irving sat out Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls because of a bruised left quadriceps.

Acquired for Isaiah Thomas in a huge offseason trade with Cleveland, Irving is averaging a team-leading 23.7 points. The four-time All-Star took a knee to the quad in Sunday’s win at Detroit and finished with 16 points on just 4-for-12 shooting.

Irving missed his second game of the season. Coach Brad Stevens said doesn’t expect him to be out long, though he added: “Who knows with muscular injuries.”

Stevens also said doctors will re-evaluate forward Marcus Morris’ ailing left knee on Tuesday. Morris sat out for the second straight night and the third time in four games. He also missed the first eight games of the season.

Forward Al Horford said he was ready to play after banging his right knee with Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver.

Bulls leading scorer Lauri Markkanen also missed Monday’s game because of back spasms. He participated in the morning shootaround. Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen got treatment afterward, but his back continued to tighten.

The promising rookie also had some back issues before the season.

“We’re taking the cautious approach with it,” Hoiberg said. “It has not been a big issue. We just had the one episode with the back. He’s got a little bit of soreness in there now and, again, we’re hoping to get him back into the lineup soon.”