The Boston Celtics will try to snap a two-game losing streak on Tuesday night when they head to the United Center to face the Chicago Bulls.
This is the final tilt a of a three-game road trip and it has not been kind to the men in green. Boston got swept through Texas, first losing an emotional game against Kevin McHale and the Houston Rockets on Friday night, then falling in San Antonio on Saturday.
The loss in San Antonio ended a five-game winning streak for the Celtics over the Spurs in their building. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry led the way with 18 points a piece, but the Celtics were doomed by their inability to get the foul line. Boston attempted eight free throws against the Spurs, while San Antonio shot 20 times from the charity stripe.
"It's hard to win games on the road when a team goes to the line like that and we don't go to the line," acknowledged head coach Doc Rivers.
The Celtics struggled both offensively and defensively in Texas. They failed to crack the 90-point mark in either game and surrendered 100 points or more in both.
The Celtics were once the dominant defensive team in the NBA, but currently rank 16th in opponents' scoring and 19th in opponents' field-goal percentage.
The Bulls remain one of the league's elite defensive squads. They are second in both critical defensive categories and have allowed 100 points or more just once in their last 13 games.
Chicago had won five of its last six games heading into a Monday night bout with the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis. They lost 80-71 as only four Bulls' players scored in double-figures, led by Carlos Boozer's 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Kirk Hinrich returned from a two-game absence with a bruised left knee to score four points and fouled out.
The Bulls played brilliantly to start with a 20-11 first quarter lead. In the second quarter, the Grizzlies outscored the Bulls 18-14 and built an eight- point lead heading into the fourth.
The Bulls held the Grizzlies to 37.3 percent field-goal percentage, but Memphis shot an impressive 54.5 percent from 3-point line. Chicago, on the other hand, posted a meager 18.2 percent from beyond the arc.
"The second quarter was the problem," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "Great first quarter, terrible second quarter. They play hard. You've got to take care of the ball and we didn't do that. Then, we didn't get back (in transition) and got in a big hole. The whole game changed in the second quarter."
The Celtics already beat the Bulls in Chicago this season. Boston triumphed 101-95 on Nov. 12 when Rajon Rondo went off for 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.