The Bulls really had no business beating the lowly Nets at home thanks to a miserable performance throughout most of Wednesday night’s game, but a superhuman effort by Jimmy Butler and a timely Brooklyn collapse resulted in a 101-99 victory.
Butler provided basically all the heroics down the stretch as the Bulls erased a seven-point deficit in the final few minutes, and he capped it off with this ice cold buzzer-beater:
When you drop 40 and hit the game-winner to carry your sorry teammates past the second worst team in the league pic.twitter.com/G6QsvJMPtU— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) December 29, 2016
After a somewhat slow start as he continued to struggle with his outside shot, Butler came alive in the second half to the tune of 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He scored nine of the last 11 points during the Bulls’ 11-2 run to close the game, and he assisted on the other two when Michael Carter-Williams finally decided to make a shot. He did this after leaving the game briefly with an ankle injury after he came down on it awkwardly on a jumper.
Butler finished the night with 40 points on 14-of-29 shooting. He also added 11 rebounds, four steals and four assists. Seven of the rebounds were offensive, and in typical fashion the Bulls dominated the offensive glass by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and scoring 24 second chance points.
And surprise! The Bulls also dominated at the free throw line, where Butler went 11-11 and Chicago hit 28-29 to only 12-16 for Brooklyn. These advantages helped make up for another pitiful shooting night for the Bulls (39.8 percent), as well as a predicted huge differential in three-point shooting. The Nets made 13 triples (Brook Lopez with a career-high five en route to 33 points), which is how many the Bulls attempted as a team.
Again, quite frankly, the Bulls should’ve lost this game. Even with Butler’s efforts, they needed a Nets meltdown in those final couple minutes to win it. And it started with a somewhat harmless play that gave the Bulls a key extra possession.
With the Bulls down seven, Nikola Mirotic took an awful off-balance jumper (theme of the night) that clanked off the rim. Trevor Booker, who was guarding Niko and went out of bounds while defending, barely didn’t reestablish himself back inbounds before touching the ball. If the Nets secured that rebound and scored, that might have been game over. Instead, the Bulls got the ball back and Butler hit a tough three.
The Nets then proceeded to miss two free throws (Randy Foye, a good free throw shooter, bricked BADLY) turn the ball over twice and miss a bunny on some of their final few possessions. The only good for them was a vicious Lopez dunk over his twin brother to tie the game at 99-99, but then Butler buried his game-winner, without any help from other Nets defenders. This is why the Nets are 1-15 on the road and haven’t won a back-to-back game all year.
There’s really not much else to say about this game. The Bulls played terribly as a whole but got saved by their star player and Nets incompetence. It’s hard to even get that excited about a win like this given the circumstances, but hey, now the Bulls are on a winning streak and back to .500! And they won another fourth quarter! Yippee!
Oh, and Dwyane Wade left the game with a migraine. The Pacers are up next on Friday.