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Celtics rout Bulls, close in on number two spot in East

CHICAGO (AP) – Jaylen Brown scored 25 points, Al Horford added 17 on seven-of-seven shooting and the Boston Celtics routed the Chicago Bulls 117-94 on Wednesday night for their 50th victory.

The Celtics have won three in a row and are 27-6 since January 22. They can wrap up the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory at Milwaukee.

“It’s a pretty simple formula,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Play defence at an elite level. Share the ball, be unselfish on offence. And the results are there.”

Jayson Tatum scored 16 points for Boston. He was five of 18 from the field, making only one of eight from three-point range. The Bulls have lost two straight. They claimed a playoff berth on Tuesday. DeMar DeRozan scored 16 points for Chicago, and Nikola Vucevic added 13 points. Vucevic had four of the Bulls’ 17 turnovers.

“I think what happens is when you’re winning, you have a false sense of reality of who you are,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “And when you’re losing, you have a false sense of reality of who you are.”

The Celtics had a 16-4 run midway through the first quarter to take a 31-14 lead. They shot 57.8 per cent in the first half, going nine of 18 from three-point range. Reserve guard Payton Pritchard was three-for-three from long distance in the second quarter. Coming off a home loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday night, the Bulls committed 10 turnovers in the first half.

Their frontline depth was weakened when forward Patrick Williams committed his fourth foul with 4:31 left in the second quarter. Bulls guard Zach LaVine was one of five from the filed in the first quarter, didn’t attempt a shot in the second quarter and finished two of nine. He had seven points.

“It’s hard to play when we’re disconnected like this, and the results show,” LaVine said. “Offensively, defensively, we’re disconnected right now. We have to find our rhythm in these next two games.”

Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown (7) drives to the basket. PHOTO: AP
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