The Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers played neck and neck in this game.
It came down to the very last seconds as Pau Gasol lobbed a pass toward the hoop and Jimmy Butler snared it and tipped it in for a basket, giving the Bulls the 102-100 lead and a hard-fought OT win.
Coach Hoiberg of Chicago praised both Gasol and Butler on that play.
“That was just a heck of a pass and an unbelievable (play) there by two guys who know how to play,” Hoiberg said.
Derrick Rose was a late scratch due to hamstring tendonitis. The training staff tried to get him ready to go, but Hoiberg thought that caution was the best way to go.
“We took a cautious approach and decided to sit him tonight,” Hoiberg said.
Without Rose or Joakim Noah, the Bulls (18-12) defeated an athletic, tough Eastern Conference foe and Division opponent with similar records.
Butler was high scorer for Chicago with 28 points, 15 coming in the fourth quarter and OT periods. Guard Aaron Brooks had a great game off the bench filling in for Rose. He scored 29 points in 40:55 of action.
He was one of the offensive threats early in the game, and Butler came on strong to finish. In regulation, Butler scored the last 7 points, to keep the game tied. Butler scored with :25 seconds left to tie the game to send it to OT.
Bobby Portis had 16 points off the bench for Chicago, and Pau Gasol had another double-double with 13 points, and 11 rebounds. Taj Gibson, who started at forward, finished with 6 points and 14 boards. The Bulls out-rebounded the Pacers, 53-46, and Chicago limited Indiana to just 38% from the floor. But this was a nip-and tuck game, and the Bulls prevailed.
Paul George, fully back from his gruesome broken leg injury, scored 19 points. George Hill had 20 points for the Pacers. Monta Ellis, who hit some big shots for the Pacers down the stretch, had 13 points.
Butler also made a defensive play on George who took the last shot at the buzzer. He contested it, and the Bulls came away with the victory. Tony Snell played 26:45, went 1-6, and was of little impact in the game while Rookie Bobby Portis played 26:00 minutes, was 7-12 from the floor, and scored 16 points. Portis appears to be on the upswing in the Bulls rotation and one may see more of him in the future.
For now, Rose is day-to-day, and with him, what else is new?
The Bulls take on the New York Knicks in a few days.