By Mike McGraw
This was a case of the teacher getting the best of the student.
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Check that. First, maybe we should establish who is the teacher and who is the student in the Doc Rivers-Tom Thibodeau relationship.
Thibodeau was an assistant to Rivers in Boston from 2007-10, but Thibodeau was usually given all the credit for turning those Celtics teams into defensive powerhouses, especially when Boston won the NBA title in '08.
"(I have) no more (advantage) than he has on me," Rivers said. "We do the same thing. It's no secret defensively. We come from the same place -- the Dick Harter school of defense, and the Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy. We come from the same place. So I don't think it's an advantage either way."
The Bulls did play one quality quarter of defense, but it wasn't enough. They sliced a Boston lead from 13 points to 2 in the fourth quarter but came up on the short end of a 101-95 loss at the United Center.
This game had the potential to be a big night for Celtics guard Rajon Rondo because Kirk Hinrich sat out with a right-hip strain. It's not clear when Hinrich might return.
Rondo finished with 20 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, while hitting 10 of 16 shots from the field. The matchup against Nate Robinson wasn't working out, so Thibodeau chose to use rookie Marquis Teague for the entire fourth quarter.
The defense picked up in the final 12 minutes, as Boston scored 19 points and shot 35 percent. During the first three quarters, the Celtics carved up the Bulls' defense for 82 points and 55.7-percent shooting.
"The difference in the fourth quarter, we tried," Thibodeau said. "I wanted to go to more trapping to try to get some energy into the game. So we went to more of a full-court trap. I thought the speed and quickness of Taj (Gibson) and Marquis would help us."
Carlos Boozer also sat out the fourth quarter, despite scoring 15 points. He left the locker room quickly after the game.
Rivers agreed with Thibodeau's decision to use Teague, even though the rookie from Kentucky had played just 10 minutes so far this season.
"He played terrific," Rivers said. "One thing you love about Thibs, he left him out there, which was terrific. I thought he was responsible in a lot of ways for bringing them back."
The Bulls got as close as 95-93 with 49 seconds left when Gibson rebounded a missed free throw and fed Luol Deng (26 points) for a bank shot.
Needing a basket, Boston went to a pick-and-roll with Rondo and Garnett. When both Gibson and Joakim Noah jumped at Rondo, he tossed an easy lob to Garnett for a dunk with 41.9 seconds left.
Gibson expressed exasperation when the ball went through the hoop.
"Rondo's been great," Thibodeau said. "Actually, we covered that play in the pregame. They're good at it, and we got hung up a little bit. You've got to know it's coming. You've got to read it."
The Bulls quickly drew a foul, but Gibson missed both free throws and the Celtics put things away with a Brandon Bass dunk with 22.4 seconds remaining.
"They hit some shots," Noah said. "When Rondo gets in the paint like that, it's hard, especially with the shooting they have. They're tough to guard, but we're definitely capable of better."