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Bulls vs. Knicks final score: Jimmy Butler's career-high 35 points leads Chicago past New York, 103-97

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Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony didn't play, so Butler decided to put on his own show.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

When I volunteered to write about this game, I was pretty excited. I figured Derrick Rose would lead the Bulls to a fun romp and I could make some Carmelo Anthony jokes and that would be that. Instead, Rose and Anthony (and Taj Gibson) didn't play, and Chicago played down to yet another awful opponent at the United Center. Luckily, this generally lethargic effort still resulted in a 103-97 victory thanks in large part to a career-high 35 points from Jimmy Butler.

At first, it looked like this was going to be a snoozer. Butler pitched a perfect first quarter with 12 points and four assists, and the Knicks looked as uninspired and terrible as one would expect them to be without Anthony and a host of others. The Bulls led by 10 points after the opening quarter and seemed to be on the verge of a runaway victory, but it wasn't meant to be.

The Knicks' offense picked it up over the next two quarters, which allowed them to hang around. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jose Calderon really got it going in the third quarter, with the backcourt duo combining for 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Ironically enough, Hardaway was going off while E'Twaun Moore was taking Tony Snell's minutes because Tony Snell might as well be a ghost on the floor.

New York actually led going into the fourth quarter, although order was momentarily restored at the outset of the final frame. The Knicks began to Knick by bricking shots and turning the ball over, and the Bulls took advantage. Aaron Brooks got things started with a three, and then Butler and Nikola Mirotic kept the run going. A 12-0 run should have been the final nail in New York's coffin, but for some reason, it wasn't.

The Knicks just wouldn't go away, even with the Bulls executing pretty well offensively down the stretch. New York had the ball down three in the final minute, but Hardaway rushed a bad shot from the corner out of a timeout and Chicago came up with some big offensive rebounds on the other end to help seal the game.

The story of the game was obviously the play of one Jimmy Butler. Butler's 35 points came on 11-of-21 shooting overall and 4-of-7 from three in 45 (LOL) minutes. Here's his shot chart:

Butler

Butler's performance was impressive on many levels, but it was especially great to see him shoot so well from long range and 8-of-15 overall on jumpers. On several occasions, Butler just iso'd his man and buried a tough jumper in the defender's eye. His last three points of the night came in exactly that fashion, on an onions three with three minutes left.

In addition to knocking down all those jumpers, Butler also went 9-of-10 from the line and racked up seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. All this happened while Charles Barkley rambled on and on about how Butler was a role player and not deserving of a max or near max deal. Barkley's arguments were so asinine that they had me agreeing with Reggie Miller, which is quite the feat. But I digress.

Brooks delivered a strong effort off the bench with 18 points, while Mirotic added 13 points. Pau Gasol was the only other Bull in double figures scoring with 20 points, and the big man also blocked five shots. Joakim Noah did some nice work on the glass in his return from injury (13 rebounds), but he airballed a free throw and was a horrific 1-of-8 from the field. A little rusty, one might say.

A win is a win, but it's unfortunate that so much energy had to be exerted against a bum team when the Grizzlies are staring the Bulls in the face tomorrow night. It was going to be a tough game in Memphis no matter what, and now it's going to be even harder, especially if Rose and Gibson can't go again.