The Chicago Bulls are again climbing the road toward .500 and Thursday night, it received a “home” star’s call.
Jimmy Butler was touched on the elbow as he put up a desperation shot with barely any time on the clock and the Celtics clinging to a 103-102 lead.
But he was fouled on the play, much to the dismay of the Brad Stevens, the Celtics coach and Markus Smart, the player who grazed Butler’s arm. When the ref’s added :.09 left on the clock, time enough to run off a play, tempers settled. Butler made both free-throws to put the Bulls ahead by a slim point. At least the Celtics had their chance. But their shot went awry and the Bulls pulled it out, 104-103.
Michael Jordan would have gotten that call. Larry Bird would have gotten that call in Boston. Kobe Bryant would have gotten that call in LA. Jimmy Butler has become a legitimate star because that call would go to the “man” of the team.
Butler finished with 29 points on 9 of 20 shooting. Isaiah Thomas of Boston also scored 29 points. At times, it was the dueling All-Stars in the fourth quarter. Thomas making shot after shot, and the Bulls just a basket behind. Then it was a point behind, and finally, the Bulls got their call.
It was a nip and tuck game in the fourth quarter. The Celtics are a tough team, one of the elites of the East. The Bulls are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. Every win is important to this club.
A telling stat: The Bulls out rebounded Boston 51-31. That may have been the difference. Boston made almost 38% from three-point land. But the Bulls had the margin in second chance points and got opportunities to score. Bobby Portis scored 19 points off the bench to spark Chicago. Taj Gibson, who has been mentioned in trade rumors had 12 points and 9 boards. Robin Lopez chipped in with 15 points and 8 boards.
It wasn’t a pretty win. But in the NBA, a win is a win. Now, 28-29, The Bulls will take the All-Star break to mentally re-group. Jimmy Butler will be starting for the Eastern Conference in New Orleans.
Dwyane Wade did not play due to a wrist contusion.