The Chicago Bulls needed a win to qualify for the NBA playoffs.
They got that win at the United Center by convincingly defeating the under-manned Brooklyn Nets, 113-72.
The Nets all but gift wrapped this game by not playing three regulars including Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. The Bulls came out determined to get this game, no matter who played for the other team. Their focus and intention is what carried them to victory and enabled the Bulls to finish at .500 (41-41).
Jimmy Butler finished with 25 points and Paul Zipser had 21 points to lead the Bulls. Butler finished strong in the last month, averaging over 25 points per game.
The Nets were led by newcomer Archie Goodwin who saw more playing time. He scored 20 points.
Early in the second quarter the Bulls took a 30-15 lead and one had the feeling they would not let this game slip away. They led by 18 at the half, and in the second half the rout was on. Rajon Rondo had ten points in a game where he played with a healing wrist injury.
The Bulls will continue its season, and Rondo will get a chance to play more games, likely facing his old club, the Boston Celtics.
Chicago shot just 43% but had a good night from three-point land, hitting 46.7% of its shots. They out-rebounded Brooklyn 62-48.
It was effort and a sense of purpose that were the main ingredients to the win and that was borne out by the rebounding margin. Nikola Mirotic had an off-night from the floor, only making 3 of 12 attempts for nine points. But he hauled in nine rebounds. Bobby Portis saw court-time and added 12 points.
Finally, this team fought and climbed through the ups and downs of a long season to earn the right for the “second” season. In the end, Jimmy Butler played a huge factor in the team’s recent winning ways.