Chicago survives three OTs
By Andrew Seligman
CHICAGO ó One more overtime thriller has the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics headed for a Game 7. Seems only fitting.
Derrick Rose scored 28 points before blocking Rajon Rondo’s potential game-winner, John Salmons had 35 points and the Bulls beat the defending champions 128-127 in triple overtime Thursday night to even the first-round series.
Ray Allen scored a career playoff-high 51 points for the Celtics, but it’s back to Boston for Game 7 on Saturday night.
“It’s crazy,” Rose said, “but you got to love it.”
Three of the first five games in the series went to overtime, including a Game 4 that went two extra periods. Another came down to the wire in regulation, but this easily trumped them all.
Rondo pulled up on the left block with eight seconds left and turned, only to be rejected by Rose. The rookie of the year then missed two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining, and Rondo launched a harmless heave from midcourt.
That ended the game. The series, however, continues.
“This series is a lot of fun for the fans, the people of Chicago, the people of Boston,” said Joakim Noah, who dribbled the length of the court for the go-ahead three-point play after a steal. “It’s a lot of fun for us, too, playing in environments like this on the big stage. It’s special to be part of this, and I know that it’s a series people will be talking about for a long time.”Things might be different with a healthy Kevin Garnett, but without him, the Celtics are locked in a classic.
“It’s unbelievable,” Boston’s Kendrick Perkins said. “Shot after shot, tough make after tough make. It’s a tough series. They’re a young team playing with a lot of confidence.”
Tied at 123 in the third overtime, Noah stole a pass by Paul Pierce and broke upcourt for a dunk, got fouled by Pierce and hit the free throw with 35.5 seconds remaining. Eddie House quickly answered with a corner jumper ó his feet were on the 3-point arc ó to pull the Celtics within 126-125. Brad Miller hit two free throws with 28 seconds left, and Rondo put back his own miss to make it a one-point game.Allen was spectacular for Boston, finishing three points shy of John Havlicek’s club playoff record and tying the NBA playoff mark with nine 3s.
Allen buried a 3-pointer over Kirk Hinrich to tie the score with 7.6 seconds left in the second overtime.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Allen said. “There’s nothing to really talk about anymore. We lost, and we had the agony that it wasn’t enough.”
Salmons responded with a 3-pointer to put Chicago ahead and made it a three-point game with a driving layup with two minutes left.
It stayed that way until Allen, his toes touching the arc, buried a jumper from the right corner that pulled Boston within 116-115 with 20 seconds remaining. Miller hit two free throws, to make it a three-point game, but Allen wasn’t finished.
Allen buried a 3-pointer over Kirk Hinrich to tie it with 7.6 seconds left in the second OT.
“I really don’t know what to say about this series,” Pierce said. “This has been a phenomenal series.”
Notes: Havlicek scored 54 against Atlanta on April 1, 1973. … Rose was a unanimous pick for the all-rookie team along with Memphis’ O.J. Mayo in a vote of the league’s coaches.