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Amir Johnson Lights Out For Celtics In Win Over Bulls

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Al Horford was out with a concussion. Jae Crowder hopped off the floor with a sprained ankle in the second quarter.

The Celtics needed someone to step up in a big way Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls, and it came from an unlikely source.

Isaiah Thomas was his usual self, pouring in 23 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of the season. But he wasn't the big story of the evening. That belongs to center Amir Johnson, who shot the ball like he was a swingman and not a big man whose main purpose is to clean out the paint and find open teammates.

Johnson's shot, with that windup so long that some could do their taxes before the ball leaves his hands, was lights out. When he attacked the rim, the Bulls unable to stop him. And when he wasn't knocking down shots from near or far, his passes were crisp and set up his teammates for easy buckets.

The result was one of Johnson's best games in green: 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in Boston's 107-100 victory. He hit nine of his 11 attempts from the floor, and all four shots he put up from beyond the arc.

Johnson's previous career-high for three-pointers made in a game was two.

"I was just feeling good," Johnson humbly told reporters after the game. "I made the first one and my confidence built a little higher. When I knocked down the fourth one, I don't think I even saw the basket. The basket just got big and they were just giving me so much time to focus on shooting the threes."

Despite the basket looking like a canyon, the Bulls kept laying off Johnson when he set up beyond the arc. He took advantage, and poured in 16 of his 23 points in the third quarter as Boston turned a three-point halftime lead into an 11-point advantage. He hit all four of his threes in a six-minute span in that third frame, and joked after the game that his abilities from beyond the arc must not have been on Chicago's scouting report.

"I'm always able to shoot. It's just in our offense I try to play team ball. I'm a very unselfish player. I look to pass first, but I was able to just find open spots and knock down shots," Johnson said. "I prefer to roll and get that soft touch, but if guys are just laying off and giving me that much time, I'm going to shoot the ball."

"He was talking about it all week, how he can shoot it a bit," said Thomas, a skilled shooter in his own right. "He felt good. They were the right shots. We rotated the ball to him, he set his feet and he knocked them down... He was a big key to the win tonight."

"Whatever he ate or drank last night, whatever he did, I want some of it," C's guard Marcus Smart joked after the game.

Hopefully Johnson's offensive groove carries over into Thursday night. The Celtics will be without Horford again when they visit Cleveland for their first meeting of the season against the 5-0 Cavaliers. If Johnson's three-point prowess wasn't on their scouting report before, it certainly will be now.

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