BOSTON – Guard D.J. Augustin came off the bench to score a career-high 33 points, including nine straight for his team down the stretch, as the Chicago Bulls continued their push for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 107-102 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
By winning their third game in the last four and 18th in their last 26, the Bulls, who will make the playoffs for the second straight year without injured star Derrick Rose, kept seeding pace with the two teams around them in the Eastern Conference.
The Toronto Raptors, a game ahead of the Bulls in third place in the conference, won at Orlando, and the Brooklyn Nets, 11/2 games behind in fifth, won at home. The Bulls then evened their road record at 18-18 with the tight win over the Celtics, losers of four straight and nine of their last 10.
The win came in the first half of a home-and-home set that ends in Chicago on Monday night.
Augustin snapped a 96-96 tie with a 3-pointer with 1:19 left and then went 6-for-6 from the foul line to hold off Boston, which stayed alive on two straight 3-pointers by forward Jared Sullinger.
Boston forward Jeff Green hit two straight threes to tie the game at 96-96.
Center Joakim Noah scored 13 points, dished out 13 assists and had eight rebounds, swingman Jimmy Butler scored 15 points and forward Carlos Boozer 14 for the Bulls (41-32).
Guard Rajon Rondo led six Celtics in double figures with 17 points and 11 assists, while Sullinger finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Green 16 points. Forward Kris Humphries had 14 points and eight boards.
There were 11 ties, and neither team led by more than five points in the first half. There were 19 ties in the game.
A flying slam dunk by forward Brandon Bass with nine seconds left in the half cut Chicago’s lead to one at the break.
In the first quarter, Bulls forward Carlos Boozer was called for a “clear path” foul as Humphries broke away after a steal. Boozer also gave Humphries an extra push at the end of the play to earn a technical foul. Chicago forward Mike Dunleavy was called for a clear path foul in the third quarter but the call was overturned upon review.
Later in the third, Humphries was called for a foul on a rebound and hit with a technical.
NOTES: Celtics PG Rajon Rondo, who won’t play in back-to-back games this season as he continues coming back from knee surgery, will sit out the rematch against the Bulls on Monday night. He will do television work for the first half. … Bulls PG Derrick Rose, out for the season with a knee injury, is working out with the team, and coach Tom Thibodeau believes the star contributes without playing. … Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Chicago C Joakim Noah: “How often do you have a guy that’s even mentioned as an MVP candidate that averages what he averages points-wise. I think that tells you what Noah’s meant to this team since Rose has been out and (Luol) Deng got traded. They haven’t skipped a beat.” … The Celtics took the floor for warmups wearing Boston Fire Department T-shirts, honoring the two firefighters killed in last week’s fire not far from TD Garden. The coaches wore BFD patches on their jackets.
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