Basketball

Butler service takes sting out of Hornets

CHICAGO BULLS CHARLOTTE HORNETS2
118 111

 

Even without two of his fellow starters yesterday morning (Singapore time), Jimmy Butler refused to change his mindset.

Butler knew he might have to be a little more aggressive offensively than normal, but nothing else would change.

Especially his mission of doing what he needs to give the Chicago Bulls the best chance of winning.

The 27-year-old took charge late on and finished with 52 points - one shy of his career high - 12 rebounds and six assists as the Bulls defeated the Charlotte Hornets 118-111 at the United Center.

The Bulls, playing without injured guard Dwyane Wade and benched point guard Rajon Rondo, surged behind Butler and came up with some key defensive stops down the stretch to win for just the fourth time in 12 games as they snapped a two-game losing streak.

"I think it's an understatement to say Jimmy was phenomenal tonight," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He did it every which way."

Butler, who was 15 of 24 from the field and 21 of 22 from the free-throw line, took over in the final minutes when the Bulls created some distance from the Hornets.

He scored eight straight points and split two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to give Chicago a 112-106 lead.

He then capped the scoring with two free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining for the Bulls, who outscored the Hornets 36-26 in the final 12 minutes.

"I was just playing basketball," Butler said. "I just had a groove."

Doug McDermott, starting in place of Wade, scored 11 points for the Bulls (17-18), who also got 12 points off the bench from Nikola Mirotic. Michael Carter-Williams, starting in place of Rondo, had 10 points.

Butler's teammates fed off his lead as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 12-2 in the final 1:39 as the Hornets couldn't stop Butler down the stretch.

"Our defence is soft," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "We can't just pick and choose when to play it."

Kemba Walker led Charlotte (19-16) with 34 points and 11 rebounds to go along with 19 points by Nicolas Batum.

Jeremy Lamb (15 points) and Spencer Hawes (10 points) reached double figures for the Hornets. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS

  • LA Clippers 109 Phoenix 98
  • Golden State 127 Denver 119
  • Houston 101 Washington 91
  • Brooklyn 89 Utah 101
  • NY Knicks 103 Orlando 115
  • Milwaukee 98 Oklahoma City 94
  • Cleveland 90 New Orleans 82.
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