Banged-up Bulls invade Beantown

The Chicago Bulls managed to stay in the win column their lowest point total of the season and reigning MVP Derrick Rose did not play because of a toe injury.

The Bulls have won both of their lowest point totals on the season and should understand that trying to pull that off against the Boston Celtics will be a tall task. The two Eastern Conference powers collide tonight at TD Garden.

Chicago recorded a 78-64 victory versus Washington on Wednesday and John Lucas III earned the start in place of the dynamic Rose, scoring a career-high 25 points on 11-of-28 shooting to go with eight rebounds and eight assists.

"I'm extremely proud of him," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said of Lucas. "He's been kind of waiting for his turn to get his chance to do his thing, and he got his chance tonight and played really well for us."

Kyle Korver added 14 points and Luol Deng posted 12 and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who managed to defeat Atlanta earlier this month with a season-low 76 points and have won three in a row to push their record to 10-2. The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only other team with 10 wins this season (10-2). Rose is listed as questionable for Friday's tilt with the Celtics and is averaging 21.1 points and 5.2 assists in 11 career games against them. Head coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose "usually responds very well to treatment."

The Bulls are 6-2 on the road and first in the Central Division. On the injury front for Chicago, guards Richard Hamilton (groin) and C.J. Watson (elbow) are both questionable for Friday. Hamilton, in his first year with the team, has missed five straight and seven of eight games, while Watson hasn't seen the court in each of the previous seven contests.

Meanwhile, Boston will put the finishing touches on a five-game homestand tonight and has lost two in a row since a season-high four-game win streak.

The Celtics, who began the shortened season with three straight losses, are coming off Wednesday's 90-85 setback to the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki's three-point play with 5.1 seconds left lifted the Mavericks to victory, while the Celtics were paced by Rajon Rondo's 24 points and seven assists. Kevin Garnett totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which made 45.3 percent of its shots and got nine points from both Ray Allen and Keyon Dooling. Paul Pierce had just seven points.

"I think this is his team right now, until everybody else gets it going," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. "We need him to be aggressive. We need (him) to be a scorer. And attack. That's a change, but that's what it is right now until everybody else gets it going, because they are not. Ray (Allen) to me is playing pretty well, but we've got to get Paul (Pierce) going, we've got to get Kevin (Garnett) more consistent offensively even though I thought he was pretty good today with the defensive load that he had to carry."

Pierce is one game shy of tying Kevin McHale (971) for third on the franchise's all-time games played list. He is also two assists shy of tying JoJo White (3,686) for fifth on the team's all-time assists list. Mickael Pietrus made his Boston debut against the Mavericks, posting five points, two rebounds and two steals in 17:53 of action. The Celtics are 3-2 in Beantown this season and will visit Indiana at the conclusion of their residency.

Boston and Chicago split four meetings last season, but the Celtics have won 10 of the previous 15 matchups between the teams. Chicago has lost two straight and seven of its last eight trips to Boston. Allen had a team-high 16.3 points to go along with 3.5 rebounds against the Bulls last season. Garnett averaged a double-double with 15.3 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Rose led the Bulls with 26.0 points and 6.8 assists in last year's series.