Bulls charge past Celtics for third straight win

BOSTON (Reuters) - Luol Deng scored 25 points to lead a strong effort from the starting unit as the Chicago Bulls topped the Boston Celtics for the first time this season with a 96-83 victory on Thursday.

All five starters reached double figures for the Bulls (17-20) who captured their third-straight win and avenged two lopsided defeats to Boston earlier in the season.

The Celtics (27-11), playing their fourth game in five nights, had drubbed Chicago by a combined 54 points in their two previous meetings but the ailing home team struggled this time around.

Playing without defensive captain Kevin Garnett, out with a hyper-extended knee, and offseason acquisition Rasheed Wallace, who has a foot injury, Boston fell behind 29-18 after the first quarter and only flirted with contention late in the game.

Paul Pierce, who led his team in scoring with 20 points, made a three-pointer to pull Boston to within 86-80 with 3:49 remaining but the streaking Bulls finished the game with a 10-3 run.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Frank Pingue and Nick Mulvenney)