DeRozan leaves with injury, then late Bulls rally falls short in Boston

The Bulls tried to continue their unlikely success against the NBA's best team on Monday, but ran into a speed bump in the third quarter.

It appeared DeMar DeRozan tripped over the foot of Boston's Al Horford and fell to the court in some discomfort. He tried to stay in the game, but headed to the locker room about a minute later with what was called a right quad strain.

The Bulls stayed competitive, coming back from a 16-point deficit to have a chance to tie in the final minute, but fell short against the Celtics 107-99. The Bulls' three-game win streak came to an end, but they're still 8-4 in the last 12 games.

Zach LaVine scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, hitting several clutch 3-pointers to give the Bulls a chance. With a chance to tie it late, LaVine missed a contested 15-foot jumper with 46 seconds left while trailing by 2.

On the other end, the Bulls took a calculated gamble and sent a double-team at Jayson Tatum (32 points) as the shot clock wound down. Tatum dished to an open Al Horford, and Billy Donovan's former center at Florida rattled a 3-point shot around the rim and in with 25.5 seconds left.

In the first game since Donovan suggested he'd like to see LaVine take 10 to 15 3-point shots per game, LaVine went 4-for-13 from long range, but kept the Bulls close after DeRozan left.

After the game, Donovan didn't have much of an update on DeRozan's injury.

"He just said to me when I saw him in the locker room that he felt like he strained it when he went down," Donovan said. "That's kind of all I know.

"It was right after the game and I saw him and I just said, 'How are you doing?' He said, " I just feel like I strained it.' But he didn't tell me like, 'This is really bad' or 'I'll be ready tomorrow.' He just said he felt like he strained it, that was it."

DeRozan's been very durable since joining the Bulls. He missed six games last season, four due to health and safety protocols and two for rest. He hasn't missed any games this year.

One thing to watch with DeRozan's injury is whether it's the quad muscle or a quad tendon strain. A quad tendon strain can be a troublesome injury that is tough to go away. There should be more clarity before Wednesday's game at Washington.

The Bulls were within 2 points at the 9:45 mark of the third quarter after DeRozan tallied his last basket. But just before DeRozan went to the locker room, Tatum scored 9 straight points on a 3-point play and a pair of 3s to put Boston up by 13.

Heading into this game, the Bulls had won four of their previous six games against the Celtics, who own the NBA's best record at 29-12. They swept two games at the United Center early in the season and lost by 4 in Boston on Nov. 4.

Center Nikola Vucevic finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. DeRozan scored 13 before leaving the game and Patrick Williams scored 10. Alex Caruso returned after missing two games with a sprained ankle and scored 6 points in 20 minutes.

The final tally of offensive rebounds was 9-6 in favor of Boston, but the Celtics got 6 of those at key times in the fourth quarter. The Bulls got within 5 points a couple of times and seemed to be turned back, but LaVine hit a 3 over Horford to make it 99-97 with 2:17 left. Tatum drew a reach foul on Williams and hit 2 free throws before a Vucevic lay in cut the lead back to 2. Boston's Jaylen Brown missed a shot over Ayo Dosunmu, setting up LaVine's chance to tie.

"I thought his overall play, both himself personally and then how he tried to pass and move the ball was really good," Donovan said of LaVine. "He gave us that chance in the fourth quarter when he went on that roll."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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