"I think my teammates are finding me in transition and they trust
me to find open spots," said Butler, the third-year guard out of
Marquette who scored a game-high 26 points, 16 of which came in the
first half, as the Bulls manhandled the Brooklyn Nets 102-84 Sunday
afternoon at the Barclays Center.
"Of course, confidence is always a big key in this league," said
Butler, a career 9.7 point per game scorer who is averaging close to
22 per contest this year. "You keep telling yourself that you can
make that shot, make that play and then you can."
The win for the Bulls (11-6) came on the final game of a grueling
seven-game road trip, a stretch where Chicago went 4-3.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau credits Butler's desire as the main
reason for the improvement.
"Each year he's been in the league, he's made a big jump up,"
Thibodeau said. "Obviously, he's very talented, but he's worked on
so many other things. He analyzes the way he's playing the game. He
has endless desire and drive. He wants to get better. Every day, he
gives you everything he has and it's those kinds of guys who
improve. He plays with great intensity. I'm not surprised with how
well he's playing."
The Bulls also received 25 points and 13 rebounds from forward Pau
Gasol. Guard Derrick Rose added 14 points.
"I think this was the best game of our trip," said Rose, who played
his second consecutive full game after leaving with a hamstring
injury after 10 minutes in a loss to Denver last Tuesday. "To come
in here and end the trip like this is tremendous. You get nothing
but great vibes from a win like this. This is a team that has a lot
of scorers and we were able to shut them down."
The Nets (6-9) were led by guard Bojan Bogdanovic, who had 13
points. Guard Jarrett Jack added 12 points off the bench.
The Bulls held a huge 48-31 advantage in rebounding, led by Gasol
and forward Nikola Mirotic, who had 12 and center Joakim Noah, who
"Defense and rebounding," Thibodeau said. "Those were the keys. We
did those things very well. That, and Jimmy played unbelievably on
both sides of the ball. I like the way we're playing on the road."
The Bulls improved to 9-3 on the road for the season.
Mirotic also had 12 points and guard Aaron Brooks added 11 for the
The Bulls took the lead for good in the first quarter, going on a
13-1 run at one stretch, erasing a six-point Brooklyn lead and
holding a 22-20 lead after one period.
Butler scored four straight points on two free throws and a pretty
alley-oop left-handed tip in on a pass from Brooks, giving the Bulls
a 35-26 lead with 6:56 left to go in the first half.
Chicago led 47-42 at the break. Butler did most of his damage at the
free-throw line, connecting on 9 of 10.
"When you get into the lane, good things happen," Butler said.
"That's what I tried to do."
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In the third quarter, Butler scored on a dunk and a turnaround
jumper, then Rose drained a 3-pointer from the left side, giving the
Bulls a 63-50 lead with six minutes left in the third. Rose's jump
shot gave the Bulls their biggest lead at 67-52 with 4:28 left in
Brooks drained a corner 3-pointer, then scored on a conventional
three-point play with 8:30 left to give the Bulls an 84-68 advantage
to basically put the game away.
The Nets were hurt by the play of All-Star forward Joe Johnson, who
was virtually invisible in defeat. Johnson scored only three points
in 28 minutes. All-Star guard Deron Williams also struggled, scoring
10 points, but shooting just 3 of 12 from the floor in a lackluster
When asked how the Nets turn around their misfortunes, Johnson
replied, "I have no idea. We lost. That's pretty much it. I thought
we started off pretty decent, but it wasn't good enough. I thought
we had some good looks early and had shots we normally make, but
they didn't go in."
When asked if the Nets are frustrated right now, Johnson said,
"Probably so, that's a good word to use."
The Nets also had to endure a second-half incident where it looked
as if forward Kevin Garnett went to bite Gasol's hand as Garnett
tried to defend him, but Garnett downplayed the incident as being a
"If I wanted to bite him, I would have bit him," Garnett said. "I
was doing a little Mike Tyson there."
NOTES: The status of Nets veteran F Andrei Kirilenko remains a total
mystery. He left the team last week, complaining about a lack of
playing time. Kirilenko remains on the roster, but he's listed again
as inactive for personal reasons. There was some talk of a possible
trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, but those talks fell through.
Kirilenko saw action in just seven games, totaling 36 minutes,
scoring just three points. ... Bulls F Taj Gibson missed the game
with a left ankle sprain. ...Nets F Mason Plumlee attempted 10 free
throws in just 15:45 of playing time, the fewest minutes anyone took
to get to 10 FT shots this season and the first Net to achieve the
feat since the late Armen Gilliam did it in 12 minutes in 1995. ...
The two teams meet again Dec. 10 in Chicago.
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