By Richard Kagan
Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, and the Minnesota Timberwolves came to town to face the young Chicago Bulls, with a seven game losing streak on the line.
The Bulls (19-35) won this exciting game that came down to final missed shot by Butler and with the strong game of Zach LaVine, (35 points) who was a former Timberwolve, Chicago beat a team that likely will make the Western Conference playoffs.
Guard Zach LaVine and Butler were the stars of this game, and LaVine came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points and eight points in the final 1:11 of the game, that allowed Chicago to come out on top. Friday night, LaVine seemed to take the mantle of the team; that he can make plays, and at times, score at will. He made some beautiful treys, shots from all areas of the court, and layups. He was fouled late in the fourth quarter and drained all three free-throws to give the Bulls the one point, 114-113 lead.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler missed three-point shots with seconds remaining and the Bulls got the W. Butler scored 38 points, at times almost effortlessly. He missed some shots in the fourth quarter to give Chicago an opening. Zach LaVine took it upon himself and scored key baskets in the closing minutes, including those three freebies coming with 18 ticks on the clock. The Bulls had a strong third quarter and got back in the contest that almost got away from them. Chicago out-scored Minnesota 33 to 19.
Robin Lopez scored 19 points, 16 coming in the first half. Jerian Grant played a solid game at point guard, scoring 14 points and dishing out 11 assists. Lauri Markkanen had 12 points and Bobby Portis chipped in with 11. Kevin Dunn missed his ninth game due to injuries he suffered in a brutal fall over two weeks ago at the United Center. He is now at practice and is scheduled to play against Orlando early in the week.
The Bulls shot a respectable 49% from the field and had 22 assists. LaVine scored his most points as a Bull this season — as he rounds into form after his long lay-off due to an ACL injury to his knee.