Butler lifts Bulls to 104-103 victory over Celtics
Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler, front, goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics' Amir Johnson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
By Jay Cohen, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) -- Jimmy Butler made two free throws with 0.9 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 104-103 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time).
Butler's clutch foul shots capped a memorable duel with fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the NBA's final game before the break. Butler and Thomas had 29 points and seven assists each.
Butler was touched on the right elbow by Marcus Smart on a turnaround jumper at the final horn, drawing a foul. Butler nodded his head up and down as an incredulous Smart danced up the court in disbelief.
Butler calmly drained each free throw, and Al Horford air-balled a baseline jumper on the Celtics' last shot, giving Chicago (28-29) consecutive wins against Eastern Conference powers Toronto and Boston (37-20).
Bobby Portis had a season-high 19 points for the Bulls, who went 22-for-22 at the line. Robin Lopez had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Taj Gibson finished with 12 points and nine boards.
Thomas went 8-for-18 from the field and 9-for-9 at the line in his 41st straight game with at least 20 points, breaking the team record set by John Havlicek during the 1971-72 season. He made two free throws with 1:30 left to make it 103-100, but he was blocked by Butler on a layup attempt and missed a jumper down the stretch.
Kelly Olynyk had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who had won four in a row and 11-of-12. Terry Rozier made three three-pointers and finished with 11 points.
The Bulls played without guard Dwyane Wade and forward Paul Zipser due to injuries. Wade has been hampered by a bruised right wrist, and woke up Thursday with an illness. Zipser is dealing with left ankle tendinitis.
The break will give the 35-year-old Wade a couple weeks of rest between games.
"It'll be two full weeks since he had the wrist injury, so again, hopefully we'll get him back full strength when we return," coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Avery Bradley remained out for Boston, and rookie forward Jaylen Brown missed his third straight game with a right hip strain. Bradley, who is averaging 17.7 points, hasn't played in a month because of a sore right Achilles.
Gerald Green was questionable because of a bruised his left heel, but he entered in the first quarter and made two of the Celtics' 10 three-pointers in the first half. Thomas went 3-for-6 from long range on his way to 15 points, helping Boston to a 58-52 halftime lead.
Celtics: Amir Johnson scored all of his 10 points in the first quarter. The Celtics were out-rebounded 51-31, leading to a 22-4 deficit in second-chance points.
Bulls: PG Rajon Rondo rolled his left ankle in the second quarter, but returned to the game in the third. Hoiberg said Nikola Mirotic (back spasms) was available before the game, but the 6’10” forward did not play.
Celtics: Visit the Toronto Raptors next Friday night (next Saturday, PHL time). Boston has dropped two of three against Toronto this season.
Bulls: Host the Phoenix Suns next Friday night (next Saturday, PHL time). Chicago lost 115-97 at Phoenix last Friday night (last Saturday, PHL time).