The Chicago Bulls hit all 22 of their free throws, including a pair by Jimmy Butler with 0.9 seconds left after a touch foul call, to edge the Boston Celtics 104-103 on Thursday night at the United Center.
Trailing by just one with seconds left, the Bulls ran an iso for Jimmy Butler.
The Celtics indeed celebrated when Butler's shot missed, but referee Zach Zarba called a foul on Smart that sent Butler to the line for two foul shots.
It's almost impossible to tell if there actually was contact on the elbow, but let's just say it was probably a generous call for Chicago. After initially thinking they had won the game, the Celtics players on the court could not believe the call. Then Isaiah Thomas drove the paint and converted a layup with 5:45 left to put Boston up, 94-92, and give Thomas the new franchise mark with his 41st straight game of at least 20 points, breaking John Havlicek's old mark set back in the 1971-72 season. "It's a bad call and it cost us the game. the bulls were even shocked'. He can post guards up, his 3-point shot has been great for us this year, but just his leadership and his tenacity - we really want that and need that some games".
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"I do because every time we play against the top-tier teams, teams that are competing for something, we do well against them".
The Bulls played without guard Dwyane Wade and forward Paul Zipser due to injuries.
Kelly Olynyk had 17 points and seven boards for the Celtics, who had won four in a row and 11 of 12.
Butler led the Bulls with 29 points while Bobby Portis added a season-high 19. Isaiah Thomas only scored two points in the first period, but did have five assists to keep the Celtic offense humming until the final minutes. After Olynyk hit a 3-pointer, Thomas made one for a 100-89 Boston lead.
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Robert Covington collided into the Celtics' bench and went down to the floor late in the fourth quarter (see video).
Butler's heroics included the fourth-quarter defensive assignment on the 5-foot-9 Thomas, the National Basketball Association second-leading scorer overall and its leading scorer in the fourth quarter. Later in the quarter, Gerald Henderson was ejected for two technical fouls on the same call. The Celtics led by no more than three until the final moments of the game.
McConnell said "you're not gonna overlook us, we're not a guaranteed victory for the other team".
Celtics: A back-to-back before the All-Star break, at home against Philadelphia on Wednesday and at Chicago on Thursday.
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