Butler Scores Career High 31, Bulls Take 2-0 Lead Over Bucks


Jimmy Butler


Aaron Phillips


Chicago– While game one in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks belonged to Derrick Rose and his return to star status, the second game was the continued coronation of  restricted free agent to be, Jimmy Butler. Butler scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and finished with a playoff career high 31,  to lead Chicago to a 91-82 victory over the visiting Bucks. Although the game got chippy at points by some typical playoff physical play, the experienced Bulls were able to overcome the attempted bullying and take a 2-0 lead in the Best of 7 series.

Jimmy Butler on his personal best playoff performance: “Jo, Derrick were telling me to score the ball literally telling me to shoot and not to pass up any shots. I was feeling it a little bit so I just put the ball in the basket.”

It was clear from the start that Bucks coach Jason Kidd was not going to let Chicago forward Pau Gasol get off in this game the way he did in the past against his team. The strategy worked as they held Gasol to 11 points on 4-12 shooting from the floor. However, Pau, (16 rebounds),  found more ways to be effective in the game. He would combine with Joakim Noah (6 points, 19 rebounds), to dominate the boards, out rebounding Milwaukee 64-48.


Milwaukee, who has had  difficulty scoring all series, only had two players in double figures. Bucks were led in scoring by shooting guard Khris Middleton (22 points), and Michael Carter-Williams (12 points). Center Zaza Pachulia, (7 points), played only 23 minutes after he was ejected from the game for receiving his second technical, for elbowing Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, as they scrambled for a loose ball.

The game would remain tight until late in the fourth quarter as Butler would connect on 4-5 shots from the floor, including 3-3 from behind the arc, to help Chicago maintain the lead. But it was a Derrick Rose,  (15 points, all in the second half), step back  15  footer with .54 seconds left to give the Bulls a 9 point lead, that would be the final dagger and put the game out of reach.

Chicago assisted, (Rose 9), on 26 of the 31 field goals they connected on. Mike  Dunleavy was the fourth Bull to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau continued to prove he is in playoff mode as he consistently broke away from his predictable rotations. For the second game in a row he brought in the taller Tony Snell before Aaron Brooks to spell Rose. Furthermore, he continued to substitute Pau Gasol for Joakim Noah, thereby limiting the amount of minutes they spend on the floor together .

Game three is set for Thursday in Milwaukee at 7:00 pm central time

*Images credit to USA Today and Getty Images

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