Kevin Garnett scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help lead a late Boston rally that lifted the Celtics to a 71-69 decision over the Chicago Bulls in a defensively dominated matchup from TD Garden.
Garnett added 11 rebounds and Brandon Bass finished with a game-high 14 points for the Celtics, who outscored Chicago by a 30-20 margin over the final 13 minutes to improve to 8-1 since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25.
Marco Belinelli paced the Bulls with 12 points and both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer posted double-doubles in the loss, Chicago's second straight and fourth in five outings.
Noah amassed 10 points and 16 rebounds, with Boozer compiling 11 points and 11 boards.
Chicago shot just 36.5 percent from the floor and went 3-of-17 from three- point range, with Boston hitting on only 36.8 percent of its field goal attempts in a game in which scoring was at a premium.
That was especially the case during a slow-moving third quarter in which the Celtics mustered a meager eight points and shot a brutal 19 percent (4- for-21). Boston went scoreless for a stretch of nearly five minutes near the end of the period, enabling Chicago to put forth an 8-0 run to turn a tie game into a 49-41 lead heading into the final minute of the stanza.
The Celtics got it together down the stretch, however, making good on 11-of-16 shots during the final frame and opening the quarter on a 16-5 tear to move in front. Avery Bradley's layup in transition with 7:35 left put Boston up 55-54, and a Jason Terry runner followed by Jeff Green's dunk after a Boozer turnover extended the differential to five with five minutes left.
Boston would stay ahead the rest of the way, though Chicago pulled within one on two occasions in the final minute.
Belinelli drove and scored with 44.6 seconds remaining to trim the lead to 67-66, but Garnett answered with a huge bucket on the other end. Boozer's putback with 10.8 seconds on the clock restored the one-point spread, but Boston's Paul Pierce hit two key free throws and the Bulls twice couldn't connect on would-be game-winning three-point tries in the closing seconds.
"A college game broke out in the middle of a pro game," said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. "I told them it's gonna be an ugly game. We just got to find a way to win."
Bradley scored the final six points of a 10-0 run that staked Boston to a 20-9 advantage late in the first quarter, and the Celtics were up by 10 early in the second before Chicago quickly whittled down the margin by putting together an 8-0 spurt that made it a 27-25 game just over four minutes into the period.
The lead then changed hands five times before the half came to an end, with the Bulls claiming a 36-33 edge at the break following Marquis Teague's driving layup with 16 seconds left.
Boston's offense mustered little in the second quarter as well, with the Celtics hitting just 4-of-18 field goal attempts while being outscored by a 21-11 count for the stanza.
Garnett was playing in his 1,307th career game, tying Buck Williams for 11th place on the NBA's all-time list ... Boozer has now notched five double- doubles in his last six encounters against Boston, including a 19-point, 20- rebound effort in Chicago's 100-99 overtime win at TD Garden on Jan. 18 ... The Celtics have now won seven straight at home since a loss to Atlantic Division leader New York on Jan. 24 ... The Bulls enter the All-Star break 1 1/2 games behind first-place Indiana in the Central after the Pacers defeated Charlotte on Wednesday.