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CHICAGO — Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, and the Boston Celtics pounded the Bulls 105-89 on Monday night even though Kyrie Irving sat out because of a sore left knee.

Even without their All-Star guard, the Celtics took control right from the start and led by as many as 37 en route to their fifth win in six games.

Jayson Tatum added 14 points, while Al Horford and Terry Rozier scored 13 apiece for Boston.

The Bulls lost for the 14th time in 17 games. Denzel Valentine scored 20 points and nailed four 3-pointers for Chicago, but that was about the only positive for the Bulls.

It didn't matter that the Celtics held out Irving; his absence didn't stop Boston from burying the Bulls right from the start.

They had no trouble driving to the rim against a weak defense and dominated in the paint 46-26.

This one got out of hand almost as soon as the opening tip went up.

After losing to the NBA-leading Rockets on Saturday by three points, Boston led 55-29 at halftime. Brown had 10 points as the Celtics raced out to a 26-5 lead. He nailed a 3 and threw down a one-handed jam before Horford's steal and dunk made it a 21-point game with 4:21 left in the first quarter.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Irving aggravated the knee during Saturday's loss to Houston. He felt a little better the following day but was still sore on Monday. Stevens wasn't sure if Irving will be ready to play at Minnesota on Thursday.

"It doesn't sound like it's a long-term concern, but certainly, it could last through the week," Stevens said before the game.

The Celtics chose to start Shane Larkin rather than go with Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart because Stevens said he wanted to keep the second unit together.

Acquired from Cleveland in the offseason deal that sent Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers, Irving is averaging 24.8 points in 58 games. He has missed time this season because of a bruised quadriceps, a sore shoulder and a facial fracture.

The Celtics were second behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference at 44-20 entering Monday's game.


Celtics: The Celtics scored 35 points in the first quarter, five shy of their season high for an opening period.

Bulls: Coach Fred Hoiberg said the Bulls will recall G Antonio Blakeney from the G League Windy City Bulls "in the next couple of weeks." Blakeney is averaging 7.1 points in 12 games for Chicago.