BOSTON — The 29 points by point guard Derrick Rose were nice.
But the season-high 10 assists without a turnover were a thing of beauty in the Bulls’ 119-103 victory Friday against the Celtics at TD Garden that snapped a two-game skid.
“It’s important for [Rose] to keep us playing at a good pace,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He doesn’t have to score, but he has to make sure that we’re playing at a good pace all the time.’’
Thibodeau got the bonus against the Celtics because Rose did both, playing arguably his best game of the season.
“The more he plays, the better it is,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s really that simple. And the more confidence he gains.
“And I want him attacking the paint. When he attacks the paint, we’re a much different team. His playmaking, making the defense collapse is huge. When you have Pau [Gasol], who can break your defense down and force your defense to collapse on his post-ups, and you have Derrick off the dribble — and Jimmy [Butler] does both — that’s three guys that make your defense react. And when all three guys are going well, it’s good for your team.’’
Those three combined for 71 points as the Bulls improved to 27-14.
It did come against the Celtics, who are only 13-25, but it also came with two starters — center Joakim Noah and forward Mike Dunleavy — out with right-ankle injuries.
Dunleavy is aiming for a return at some point in the next week. Noah will have an MRI done Saturday in Chicago but wasn’t expecting bad news.
“I’ve had worse ankle injuries,’’ Noah said. “It’s the same one. I sprained my ankle. I’ll be out for a little bit.’’
But Noah did have a say in the victory. He picked up a technical foul from the bench in the third quarter, but it had little impact on the Bulls’ big three, who took over in the fourth quarter.
“The energy was great,’’ Thibodeau said. “It was probably one of the best games we’ve played. Derrick was great on both sides of the ball. That’s huge for us. Jimmy stepped up and had a terrific game. Pau was great. And our bench was terrific.’’
Butler had 22 points and six steals. They came in handy after a first quarter in which the Bulls allowed another team to shoot 60 percent from the field.
“It was big because it was the next game, and we came out from the beginning and just tried to improve on the intensity side and make sure we really got into the ball,’’ Rose said.
“I’m just trying to pick and choose throughout the game to play the way I normally play, trying not to force it, trying not to mess with the game.’’
Considering that he’s 11-for-17 from three-point range in his last two games, there’s little that Rose is messing with.
“The bottom line is winning,’’ Thibodeau said. “We can’t lose sight of how hard we have to play to have a chance to win. We’re down a lot of guys. But that’s our reality, and we have to deal with it.’’