BOSTON — The Boston Celtics, returning from a five-game western trip, scored the first 13 points of the game and cruised to a 100-80 victory on Sunday over Chicago that handed the Bulls their season-worst fifth straight loss.
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points, Avery Bradley 17 points and grabbed six rebounds, Al Horford posted 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Marcus Smart had 12 points, Jaylen Brown 11, Kelly Olynyk 11 points and nine boards and Jae Crowder 10 rebounds in the win.
The Bulls, sellers at the trade deadline, scored 26 points in the first half and didn’t make any noise until late in a 31-point third quarter as they continued their fade in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. They came into the game in 10th place.
Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine led the Bulls with 13 points apiece and Bobby Portis had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, who came in averaging a combined 42.6 points per game, were a combined 6 of 22 from the floor and had five and eight points, respectively.
The Bulls cut a 29-point third-quarter deficit down to 17 but the Celtics then hit four straight 3-pointers, two by Smart, in a 14-2 spurt that opened it back up to 29.
The Celtics, who took only four free throws, went 16 of 37 from 3-point range, their 25th straight game with at least 10 treys as they close in on the record (27) set by the Houston Rockets earlier this season. They hit six treys in the fourth quarter.
The teams split the four-game season series, both winning twice at home.
The Bulls scored their first points when Wade hit a jumper with 6:08 left in the first quarter — their only basket in their first 19 attempts. They had one field goal before two quick ones near the end of the quarter. It then took them 2:12 for their first second-quarter points, a Rajon Rondo drive making them 4 of 27 from the floor.
Chicago’s 26 points were the fewest allowed by the Celtics in a first half this season.
NOTES: The five points the Bulls scored in the final 1:12 of the first quarter capped a nine-point quarter and kept the club record of six (set twice) safe. … The Celtics are 17-0 when leading after three quarters at home. … Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game that G Avery Bradley no longer has a minutes limit in his return from an Achilles injury. … ESPN Boston reported former Celtics great Paul Pierce left autographed jerseys for every Celtic when the teams played out in Los Angeles last week. … Boston G Isaiah Thomas extended his team season record with a 3-pointer in 44 straight games and also joined Pierce and Antoine Walker as the only Celtics with 200 treys in a season. Thomas and F Jae Crowder, on the bench in the fourth quarter, joined the crowd in the wave. … The Bulls are at Charlotte Monday night while the Celtics host the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.