BOSTON — Robert Williams hit a pair of free throws with 9.7 seconds left and the Boston Celtics scored the final eight points to edge the Chicago Bulls 114-112 on Saturday night.
Williams, who tied it at 112 with two foul shots with 31 seconds to go, finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Boston rallied after trailing 112-106 with 1:57 to play.
“It’s a moment everybody in this league wants and waits for. I’m glad I made them,” said Williams, who was shooting 66% from the foul line entering the game. “I’m glad my teammates had my back. It boosted my confidence.”
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and Dennis Schroder had 16 points and eight assists for Boston.
The Celtics, who lost 111-99 in Philadelphia on Friday night, won for the fourth time in five games. Coach Ime Udoka said the team seems to have learned from mistakes that cost Boston earlier in the season.
“We’ve been in a lot of tough games like this and the guys have been growing from it,” Udoka said. “To the credit of our guys, they got down a little bit and never hung their heads, continued to fight and dug their way back out of it.”
HIGHLIGHTS: The Celtics battled the Bulls throughout but stepped it up defensively at the end to get the win ☘️
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Nikola Vucevic had 27 points for Chicago and rookie Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 21 points and added 10 assists. DeMar DeRozan, who missed a shot at the buzzer that could have tied it, scored 23.
Chicago was coming off a 138-96 loss at home to Golden State on Friday night and lost for the fourth time in five games. The Bulls couldn’t hold off the Celtics down the stretch despite numerous mistakes by Boston, which led 54-49 at halftime and 84-83 after a tight third quarter.
“They went out and did a great job – not a great job losing a game, but we competed,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s always how you respond. I thought today we did a much better job controlling our response.”
The Celtics faltered down the stretch with several mistakes, including a bad pass by Tatum, a traveling call on Brown and an offensive foul committed by Tatum. But Chicago couldn’t quite close out the Celtics, who still had a chance after Brown hit from the corner to pull the Celtics within 112-110 with 1:06 left.
Malcolm Hill missed a shot for Chicago and Williams drew a foul at the other end, tying it with a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left to play.
DeRozan missed from the lane with 11 seconds left and Boston got the rebound. Williams drew foul on Vucevic and went to the line with 9.7 seconds left, sinking both to put the Celtics back up.