The Boston Celtics seem to have righted the ship and look to remain on course when they battle the Chicago Bulls Monday at the United Center.
The Celtics opened the season with back-to-back losses, but have since won three of their next four games, including a 96-92 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday. Paul Pierce scored a team-high 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Kevin Garnett ended with 18 points and six boards.
"I believe in this team," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said. "We just have to play hard every night. It'll give us a chance to win games when we're not playing great."
Former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry scored 15 points in his first start of the season and Rajon Rondo had 10 and 10 assists. Rondo has handed out 10- plus assists in 30 straight games, the longest since John Stockton turned the trick in 37 games in a row from Feb. 27-Nov. 29, 1989. Rondo's current streak is the longest during a single season. Magic Johnson has the longest streak at 46 games from April 13, 1983-Feb. 28, 1984.
Boston used an 18-2 run in the middle of the game and needed its two veteran pieces, Pierce and Garnett, to come through in the clutch. The seasoned players scored eight points apiece in the fourth quarter for the Celtics, who rebounded from a home loss to Philadelphia on Friday.
In more milestone news, Garnett (24,366) is three points shy of passing Sixers great Allen Iverson (24,368) for 17th on the all-time scoring list.
Chicago will resume a five-game homestand and has alternated wins and losses through the first four games on the residency.
In an 87-80 victory versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, Nate Robinson scored 18 points off the bench, Joakim Noah had 17 and seven rebounds and Luol Deng netted 16 points.
"I think we have to just keep fighting for as many wins as possible," Noah said. "We just gotta keep grinding."
The Bulls made 6-of-13 3-pointers, three of which came from Marco Belinelli, and held their opponent under 100 points for a 15th straight game.
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich suffered a strained right hip in the first half and is questionable for Monday. The Bulls are already without superstar guard Derrick Rose, who is recovering from a knee injury, and will most likely have former Celtic Robinson running the floor.
Following Monday's game, Chicago will hit the road for five straight against the Suns, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Rockets and Bucks.
The Bulls won three of four meetings with the Celtics last season and have prevailed in seven of the past 10 matchups in the series. Boston is winless in five straight trips to the Windy City.