BOSTON — Celtics Coach Brad Stevens has been patiently waiting for a return of the defensive brand of basketball that was the calling card for his team early in the season.

After some notable struggles recently, it made a re-emergence at the perfect time.

Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points and the Boston Celtics got some key stops late to hold off a furious rally in the fourth quarter and beat the Chicago Bulls 110-101 on Friday night.

Avery Bradley added 21 points, and Jared Sullinger finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Celtics ended a two-game losing skid.

“We were guarding, that was pretty clear,” Stevens said. “Usually when you guard, you’re locked and you’re engaged, good things can happen offensively.”

The victory also gives Boston a 2-1 win in the season series with the Bulls.

“We were settling for a lot of jump shots that we weren’t making, and we changed it up the last two or three minutes,” Thomas said. “We got some baskets and we got some stops, so that really helped us out.”

The Celtics were up by 15 points at the half before seeing their lead drop all the way to a point in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Butler led Chicago with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Derrick Rose added 27 points, and Pau Gasol finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulls have lost 6 of 8.

After a pedestrian first half, Rose took over by scoring 16 points in the third quarter to get the Bulls within eight entering the final quarter.

Rose rested at the start of the fourth, but the Celtics’ reserves weren’t able to maintain their small cushion and went cold offensively as the Bulls continued to attack the paint.

With Rose back on the court Boston’s lead continued to dwindle, falling all the way to 97-96 on a pair of free throws by Butler with 4:58 remaining.

The Celtics settled down after a timeout, scoring eight straight points to get it back to 105-96.

“It’s about being on the same page when we’re out there. All the hustle plays – it’s effort. We’re not getting the extra effort to be a championship team right now.”

The NBA announced that the Celtics’ matchup with the 76ers, scheduled for Saturday night has been postponed until Sunday due to potential severe weather. Stevens said their original plan to fly out Friday night was scrapped and the situation is being monitored by team officials. “I had a good idea that we had somehow managed to have these two games at Philly and at Washington (Monday) scheduled during the worst snow storm in a while at either,” Stevens said. “All of the travel is being discussed and we’re staying on our toes.”