BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum didn’t hesitate when asked about the team’s chemistry nearly halfway into the season.
“It’s a lot of fun when everybody’s contributing. Guys are genuinely happy for one another’s success,” he said after the Boston Celtics coasted to a 113-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Tatum scored 21 points and Jaylen Brown had 19 to lead six Celtics in double figures.
Questioned a lot last season about the team’s chemistry with former guard Kyrie Irving as its leader, the under-achieving Celtics of last season didn’t exactly react quickly most of the time with guys being “genuinely happy” about each other’s play.
Enes Kanter had 15 points and nine rebounds, Kemba Walker added 14 points and Marcus Smart had 12 points for Boston (27-11), which won its second straight after a season-high three-game losing streak. Grant Williams added 11 points and Smart had eight assists.
Gordon Hayward chipped in with eight points, eight assists and six boards for Boston despite shooting just 4 of 11 from the floor.
“I thought he was really good in the first half,” coach Brad Stevens said of Hayward. “It’s really important that he leads us with his reads and passing.”
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points, including a couple of highlight dunks. Thaddeus Young added 17 points for Chicago (14-27), which has lost seven of eight.
“At halftime, we were disappointed in how we played. I thought we picked it up in the second half. I thought we came out, competed,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “We talked about winning the third quarter and we talked about winning the second half. That would help us win the game. We didn’t win the game, but we won the third quarter and we won the second half, so we’ll try to build off that.”
The Bulls trailed by 55-37 at halftime, but came out with a 17-5 run over the initial 4 minutes of the second half. LaVine had six points in the spree.
“They just came out and jumped on us early on their home floor,” LaVine said.
Chicago cut its large deficit at intermission to six points twice in the third, the last 67-61 on Kris Dunn’s 3-pointer from directly in front of Boston’s bench, but the Celtics closed the quarter with an 8-2 spurt to take an 83-71 edge into the fourth.
The Bulls never really threatened in the final quarter. They closed it to 95-84 with just under 6 minutes to play on Daniel Gafford’s put-back basket, but never tested Boston.