BOSTON—Growing up a Celtics fan in Springfield, Mass., Vinny Del Negro revealed he attended Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, a triple overtime victory over the Suns that many consider the greatest game in league history.
If you're a Bulls fan, Friday night might get some votes for the worst.
Granted, the Celtics' vaunted defense makes plenty of teams look bad. But with Derrick Rose plagued by three first-half fouls, the ball movement and selflessness that defined the season-opening victory over the Bucks disappeared.
Forced shots returned. On one first-quarter possession, Ben Gordon dribbled almost the entire 24-second shot clock before attempting a fallaway 18-footer that missed badly.
"We couldn't stop them to play an up-tempo game," Rose said. "They slowed us down to a halfcourt team and we're not that good yet. But we'll get there."
So many lowlights, so little space.
Tyrus Thomas missed 14 of his first 15 shots and finished 2 of 17 while scoring 11 points. He even absorbed a flagrant foul from best friend and college teammate Glen "Big Baby" Davis.
"It was just one of those nights, man," Thomas said. "I couldn't even make a dunk. Every shot I took except maybe two or three felt like it was good. My rhythm was there, a lot of in and outs."
Andres Nocioni picked up three first-half fouls in four minutes, fired his mouthpiece at the scorer's table and drew a technical foul. He eventually fouled out in just 13 minutes.
Assistant Del Harris drew another technical foul.
Gordon failed to make a first-half field goal for the second straight game, missed his first six shots and shot 3 of 10.
Luol Deng shot 2 of 10 as the Bulls finished at 29.8 percent.
After handing out 27 assists against the Bucks, the Bulls had just three in the first half and 11 overall, three more than the franchise low. Rose, who led the Bulls with 18 points, didn't record his only assist until 4 minutes 17 seconds remained.
And is now the time to mention the 21 turnovers?
"We didn't move the ball," Del Negro said. "You have to give the Celtics credit because they compete on every possession. But we were passing it and holding it. We never got any rhythm. They were more physical, more aggressive.
"They're the world champs for a reason. They have a swagger about them and we didn't handle that well. We're a young team trying to find its way."
Del Negro's parents, sisters, several nieces and nephews and high school coach all attended. He also played with Celtics coach Doc Rivers, general manager Danny Ainge and guard Ray Allen during his 11-year career, so he talked beforehand of how special the night was.
Then the game started.