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Bulls vs. Pelicans final score: Butler leads relentless attack in victory

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have Anthony Davis and Omer Asik as a starting defensive front line, but they did come in to the United Center 'leading' a bottom-5 league defense. And once the Bulls stopped throwing the ball away (10 first half turnovers, 3 in second) they were fairly unstoppable in a 107-100 win.

Jimmy Butler led the way with 33 points on 12-18 shooting in 36 minutes (!), in a game where his outside looks didn't fall early (0-3 from three) but he just kept attacking (poor Luke Babbitt). Butler headed to the FT line a total of 10 times and converted 9 of them, and was his usual relentless self on both ends of the floor.

The Bulls overall had a ton of effort-generated baskets, partially fueled by a commanding 35.7% offensive rebound rate. Joakim Noah had 7 offensive rebounds himself, followed by Taj Gibson with 4. Not just the offensive boards, but also just some good pressure defensively and running the floor that kept New Orleans from getting any break.

The Pelicans did have Davis, who was hitting nearly every jumper, and he (29 points) and Tyreke Evans (26 points, looking pretty impressive against Butler but also getting his team into some bad spots with some of his decisionmaking) did get them a quick start to the 3rd quarter and eventually a decent lead. But the Bulls bench had a big 2nd half, led by Aaron Brooks, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic, a first-three off the bench that are playing so well it's hard to think of a better wave of reserves in the league.

Brooks had 9 points on 4-7 shooting and 2 assists in the second half, finishing right into and over Davis for a couple baskets, and including this big swing to end the 3rd quarter where the Pelicans had the chance at the last shot:

With Davis later not on the floor, the Pelicans bench went ice cold to start the 4th, and by the time he had checked in again, a Mirotic 3 had the Bulls lead up to 16.

With a closing lineup of Rose, Butler, Gibson, Noah, and surprisingly E'twaun Moore, the Bulls lead never got below 7. The Pelicans went small and had some success, as Moore didn't really fare well in his assignment of containing Austin Rivers (but for the reason he gets PT now: didn't screw up much either) with both Evans and Jrue Holiday had their moments as well.

But the Bulls remained in control because on the other end  the Holiday/Evans backcourt was getting smoked by Butler and Derrick Rose. Butler was gradually feeling it as the game went on, and whether it was after he and Rose had forced a switch or not, he was able to score in isolation as well as post-ups. Rose, meanwhile, didn't have as good of an overall game (lazy 3PA count was pretty high, finishing with 19 points on 18 shots) but had a couple big 4th quarter baskets working with Butler too, including this dunk(!) that kind of shows some awful Pelicans defense.

A total obliteration was thwarted by the mentioned early turnovers and bad 3-point shooting (6 of 20), but this was a finely-earned victory over a pretty decent team, with Butler being the main contributor but a lot of other efforts (evenly distributed minutes, too. Hey, gotta mention the good times) from up and down the roster.