The grim news of Kyrie Irving’s season-ending injury didn’t slow the Boston Celtics’ roll on Friday night.
One day after learning Irving would need a second left knee procedure and miss the rest of the year, the Celtics claimed their seventh victory in nine games with a 111-104 win against the Chicago Bulls.
Jaylen Brown scored a career-high 32 points, including a career-best seven 3-pointers, and Greg Monroe had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to pace Boston. It was Monroe’s second career triple-double and his first since Nov. 7, 2012 with the Detroit Pistons.
“I believe in the guys in our locker room,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters when asked about his team’s chances in the playoffs without Irving. “I think they believe in themselves, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
With Toronto’s victory over Indiana, the Raptors clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and locked the Celtics into the second seed. Meanwhile, the Bulls missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Sean Kilpatrick scored a team-high 24 points and Lauri Markkanen had 20 for Chicago, which had won three straight after a seven-game losing streak. The Bulls dropped three of four meetings with the Celtics this season.
Jabari Bird added a career-high 15 points for Boston. Jonathan Gibson, who signed with the Celtics earlier Friday, had nine points in his debut.
Al Horford and Jayson Tatum rested for Boston.
Omer Asik’s layup with 9:30 remaining had Chicago up 86-84, but Bird tied it with 9:18 left and Gibson’s 3 with 8:57 left started a 16-6 surge that put Boston up by double digits and put the game out of reach.
Before being ejected, Monroe’s three-point play with 39.3 seconds left in the third put the Celtics up five before the Bulls pulled within 79-76 after three.
Chicago was up 58-55 at halftime after leading by as many as 11 in the first half.
Chicago hosts Brooklyn on Saturday. Boston hosts Atlanta on Sunday.
—Field Level Media