Jimmy Butler exploded for 52 points, his season high, on Monday night to carry the Chicago Bulls past the Charlotte Hornets 118-111 at the United Center.
On a night when the Bulls (17-18) were without Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, the team rallied in the fourth quarter to offset a great night by Hornets’ guard Kemba Walker who scored 34 points for Charlotte.
Wade sat out due to precautionary knee problems and Rondo was on the bench and hasn’t played in three games. Rondo is in Coach Hoiberg’s proverbial dog-house. Speculation is coming out of Chicago that if Rondo doesn’t play soon, he may ask for a trade.
Butler scored 17 points in the final four minutes to propel the Bulls to the W. The Bulls took the lead with 2:33 to play on a jumper by Michael Carter-Williams who scored 10 points and grabbed 9 boards. Williams played more minutes due to the absence of Rondo.
Chicago did not get a lot of offensive contributions. Nikola Mirotic had 12 points and Doug McDermott had 11 points. Instead, the Bulls rode the hot hand of Butler who scored from a variety of points on the court. He connected on 21 of 22 foul shots in the game, an excellent percentage.
Chicago had lost to Charlotte on their home court in an emotional battle. This time, the Bulls and Butler came out on top. The Bulls had a 58-57 lead at the half. Butler scored 20 points in the first half.
The Hornets seized the lead in the third quarter. The Bulls couldn’t get their offense going. Walker had the hot hand and this game appeared to come down to the wire, as many games have, so far this season for the Bulls.
Chicago outscored Charlotte 36 to 26 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls are reversing their fourth quarter output. It has improved in recent games.