Butler Lifts Bulls To 104-103 Victory Over Celtics

By JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer

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.

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.

Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics fouls Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics fouls Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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 3-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 3-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.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Amir Johnson scored all of his 10 points in the first quarter. … The Celtics were outrebounded 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-foot-10 forward did not play.

UP NEXT
Celtics: Visit the Toronto Raptors next Friday night. Boston has dropped two of three against Toronto this season.
Bulls: Host the Phoenix Suns next Friday night. Chicago lost 115-97 at Phoenix last Friday night.

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