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Chicago Bulls lose Game 5 106-104 in OT
BOSTON -- Root canal surgery is more relaxing than these Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Given that the series made NBA history with its third overtime game, it might take less time too.
The Celtics outlasted the Bulls 106-104 in another overtime classic Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden, taking a 3-2 series edge and grinding more nervous fans' teeth down in the process.
Any potentially necessary trip to the dentist is optional. Watching Thursday night's Game 6 at the United Center is not -- if drama is your thing.
Paul Pierce's 19-foot jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining -- his third straight over an isolated John Salmons -- won it for the defending NBA champions.
The Bulls blew their opportunity to tie when Brad Miller -- who might need a trip to the dentist -- missed the first of two free throws with two seconds left, then committed a violation when his second, intentional, miss didn't hit the rim.
Pierce missed two free throws with 1.3 seconds left, but Glen Davis grabbed the rebound on the second and the Bulls didn't have any timeouts anyway.
Pierce dribbled down most of the 24-second shot clock on his game-winner before moving to his right and calmly sinking the jumper when no double-team came.
"I thought about doubling a lot," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He fades away and he's 6-8. He hit tough shots with hands in his face. That's what great players do. But we've come with single cover, bigs, littles. He has seen it all."
In NBA history, the winner of Game 5 from a series tied at 2-2 has gone on to prevail in the series 121 of 145 times, 83.4 percent.
The Bulls felt Miller drew a flagrant foul from Rajon Rondo with two seconds left. There also was some grumbling about Kendrick Perkins interfering with the basket on Miller's shot off a sweet inbound play that left Miller thundering down the lane all alone.
The officials huddled to discuss the call for several minutes as trainers attended to a woozy Miller, whose tooth cut his lip, requiring postgame stitches. But no call came.
"Absolutely," Miller said when asked if he thought it was a flagrant. "There was blood on the floor."
Said Del Negro: "Rondo didn't come near the ball. He came right across his face. I agree that it is a hard playoff foul, but you still have to call it a flagrant and I'm sure that will be addressed."
Ben Gordon, playing 51 minutes on a strained left hamstring, had tied the game 104-104 by making three free throws with 27.3 seconds left after drawing a foul on Tony Allen.
Rondo had a game-high 28 points while Gordon and Pierce each had 26 points.
"It was up to me to guard him down the stretch and he hit three good shots," Salmons said of Pierce.
The Bulls took their largest lead at 77-66 with 9:28 left in regulation when Gordon hustled back after a miss to block Eddie House's shot and Miller fed Joakim Noah (17 rebounds) inside for a layup.
The Bulls led 83-73 on Derrick Rose's jumper with 7:19 left when Boston ripped off a 9-0 run. But Ray Allen fouled out with 5:27 left when Miller suckered him into a double foul away from the ball.
The Bulls still led 91-87 on Rose's driving layup with 1:50 left before Rondo scored on a drive, Perkins blocked Salmons' shot and Pierce scored on the ensuing fast break to tie it.
Gordon's jumper with 16.6 seconds left pushed the Bulls back up by two. But Pierce, 7-for-18 at the time, sank a foul-line jumper over Rose with 10.5 seconds left to force overtime -- again -- after Gordon's jumper at the regulation buzzer wasn't close.
"We came in confident, and we're leaving confident," Salmons said. "We gave ourselves a chance. We just didn't pull it out."
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