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Bulls pull out double-OT thriller, even series with Celtics

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The Sports Network
4/27/2009 12:28:42 AM
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Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Ben Gordon made a game-tying three-pointer near the end of the first overtime and John Salmons provided two key free throws and a block down the stretch in the second, as Chicago evened its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 121-118 win over Boston in Game 4.

Gordon finished with 22 points and Salmons had 20 -- making 9-of-9 free throws -- for the Bulls, who won the first game of this matchup in overtime before dropping the next two. With the series knotted at two games apiece, it heads back to Boston for Tuesday's Game 5.

Derrick Rose led seven Chicago players in double figures with 23 points. The rookie guard also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, with seven turnovers.

Paul Pierce had 29 points and Ray Allen added 28, which included a game-tying three near the end of regulation. Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Celtics, who were coming off a 107-86 blowout of Chicago in Game 3.

"We had a couple times, really, when we could have won," Rondo said. "We had numerous occasions when we could have won the game, we just blew opportunities."

In a game filled with big shots, Allen took center stage near the end of regulation. Gordon gave Chicago a 95-93 edge with a high bank shot on the right side with 31.2 seconds left.

Allen then fed Glen Davis for a layup inside, but it rimmed out, and with 16.6 seconds on the clock Tyrus Thomas was fouled. Thomas, however, only made the second free throw to keep the Bulls' lead at three.

That set up Allen, who became wide open when Chicago mixed up a defensive switch. Allen then drilled the three with 9.8 seconds left to force a 96-96 tie and send the game to overtime. It was reminiscent of Game 2, when Allen's three with two seconds remaining lifted the Celtics to a 118-115 win.

A Brian Scalabrine three-pointer opened the first overtime to immediately put Boston in front. The Celtics continued to lead and went ahead by two possessions when Pierce and Allen connected on back-to-back jumpers for a 105-100 lead with two minutes to play.

But Salmons answered with a three-pointer at the other end, and the teams traded baskets on their next possessions. Chicago had a chance to tie the game with 26.6 seconds left, when Scalabrine intentionally fouled Kirk Hinrich, who had gotten free on a fast break.

But Hinrich only made 1-of-2 free throws, and the Bulls lost the ball on their ensuing possession -- Davis got the ball after a collision under the hoop freed it from Hinrich's grasp.

Pierce got to the foul line with 18.9 ticks left, but made just 1-of-2 to keep Boston's lead at 108-106. Gordon took two free throws with 9.8 left, but also made just one. Chicago immediately fouled Allen, who sank both attempts for a 110-107 edge.

After the ensuing Bulls inbound, Gordon caught a pass on the run and drilled the tying shot from beyond the arc with 4.5 ticks left, sending the game to a second OT.

Chicago got the jump on consecutive baskets from Gordon and Salmons, though they were the only points scored in the first 2 1/2 minutes. Then, a Joakim Noah free throw with 35 seconds to go pushed the Bulls' cushion to 117-112.

Pierce kept the Celtics in the game, converting a three-point play and later connecting on a three-pointer with 19.2 seconds remaining to get Boston within 119-118.

But Salmons was fouled and made both shots with 16.9 on the clock, then got a piece of Pierce's three-point try at the other end to seal the win for the Bulls.

"We know it was a huge game," Hinrich said. "But we didn't come in here and be like, 'This is a must-win game.' We just wanted to get back to playing the way we knew we could. We felt like we kind of laid down in Game 3."

The two overtimes were nearly opposites, as Boston made its first five shots in the first, but missed its first three in the second and didn't score until a Davis dunk with under two minutes to play. Meanwhile, the Bulls had to rely on Gordon's shot at the end of the first thanks to erratic free throw shooting, while Salmons made 4-of-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds .

The series between the second-seeded Celtics and seventh-seeded Bulls has been extremely close, as three of the four contests have been decided by one possession.

Sunday's contest was close throughout, as Boston led 19-18 after one quarter. The teams traded eight-point runs early in the second and the game was close until halftime. Allen hit a three as the clock ran out to give Boston a 46-45 lead at the break.

Near the middle of the third quarter, Salmons sank a basket and followed with a three-point play for a 57-52 Bulls edge. Chicago continued to play in front and went up seven on a Gordon jumper with just over three minutes left.

But the Celtics ended the third stanza with a 12-0 run, during which Pierce poured in seven points, to take a 70-65 advantage into the fourth.

Hinrich erased that deficit by opening the final quarter with a trey and layup, back-to-back. The teams traded points down the stretch, and after the clock had rolled into the final minute, Rose sank two free throws to break a tie game. Davis then made two foul shots with 35 seconds left for a 93-93 game.

Game Notes

Thomas had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago, while Noah added 12 points and 10 boards. Thomas, Noah and Salmons each had three blocks...Hinrich added 18 points off the bench in the win...Chicago's Brad Miller, who ended with 12 points, received a technical foul for shoving Davis under the basket with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter...Davis had 10 points and 11 boards for Boston, while Kendrick Perkins added 15 points. The Celtics' bench totaled just 11 points...The game featured 28 lead changes and 12 ties...Boston had 21 turnovers to Chicago's 16.

Tough defence (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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