Boston, MA – Marco Belinelli's turnaround jumper with 3.1 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Chicago Bulls to a 100-99 victory over the Boston Celtics in a nail-biter at TD Garden.
Richard Hamilton scored 20 points and Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah each posted double-doubles to help the Bulls notch their third consecutive win and fifth straight triumph on the road, where the club improved to an Eastern Conference-best 12-5 on the season.
"It was a dog fight. It's one of those games that was a war from the beginning. It was kind of a like a rollercoaster ride. We're just happy that we made the last shot," Hamilton said.
Boozer amassed 19 points and a season-high 20 rebounds, with Noah finishing with 14 points and 13 boards.
Rajon Rondo racked up a season-best 30 points along with seven assists in leading Boston back from an eight-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, before fouling out with 1:16 to go in the extra session.
Kevin Garnett added 16 points and Jared Sullinger pulled down 15 rebounds for the Celtics, losers of two straight following a season-high six-game win streak.
"I didn't think we played very well. I didn't think we played very smart. We hung in there, which is a good sign. We made a lot of little mistakes and they won the game. They did make some unbelievable shots," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said.
Boston trailed 70-62 in the initial stages of the fourth quarter, but put forth a 12-4 run in which Garnett netted six points to draw even at 74-74 with seven minutes left in regulation. Rondo gave the Celtics their first lead of the night at the 4:37 mark after making 1-of-2 foul shots, and the game remained nip-and-tuck over the final stages of the fourth quarter.
Rondo's jumper with 36.6 seconds on the fourth-quarter clock snapped an 84-84 tie, and the Celtics maintained a two-point edge until Chicago's Kirk Hinrich knocked down a clutch 15-footer with just two seconds showing to force OT.
Neither team was ahead by more than three points in the extra frame, with Chicago clinging to a 98-95 lead with under a minute left. Paul Pierce then buried two free throws and Jason Terry connected with 12.5 seconds remaining to put Boston up by one.
The Bulls had one last chance following a timeout, and Belinelli came through by taking a Boozer feed and dribbling near the foul line before sinking an off-balance shot for the eventual game-winner. Boston's Courtney Lee misfired on a 3-point try at the buzzer.
Chicago built a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter, using a 7-0 run and some cold shooting by the Celtics early on to claim a 17-7 advantage. Boston, which hit on just 7-of-20 field goal tries during the opening period, countered with a 14-4 spurt to close the gap to 21-19 near the conclusion of the frame, and tied the score shortly afterward when Lee drove the lane and scored to forge a 23-23 deadlock two minutes into the second quarter.
The Bulls would regain control before the end of the half, however. A Jimmy Butler 3-pointer ignited a 10-2 stretch that put Chicago up 36-27 nearing the six-minute mark of the second quarter, and the Bulls stayed in front before entering the break owning a 45-39 edge behind a 13-point, 9-rebound effort from Boozer.
Chicago maintained a slim lead throughout the third quarter, though the Celtics trimmed the deficit to two on several occasions, but showed signs of pulling away when Nate Robinson canned a jumper to start the fourth that made it a 70-62 game in the Bulls' favor.
The Celtics played without guard Avery Bradley due to a rib injury he sustained in Wednesday's loss to New Orleans ... Luol Deng, Chicago's leading scorer, was held to a season-low three points on 1-of-6 shooting while playing just 27 minutes because of a hamstring strain ... Boozer notched his East- leading 22nd double-double of the season and is averaging 23.4 points and 11.8 rebounds in January ... Pierce went just 5-of-17 in finishing with 13 points, but passed former Celtic Robert Parish for 22nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He now has 23,340 career points ... The Celtics were just 3- of-14 from 3-point range after going 4-of-18 from that distance against the Hornets on Wednesday.