Jimmy Butler ignites Chicago Bulls victory over the Los Angeles Lakers

Photo: AP

Jimmy Butler scored his first two points, in the Chicago Bulls 118–110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the 9:22 mark of the opening period. From there on out, Butler scored 38 more points, on 14–23 shooting from the floor. He also made 12–14 from the line, and attempted only one shot from behind the three point line — it did not go through the hoop.

Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said of Butler,‘’He was attacking all night. ‘’He told me before the game, `Coach, I’m going for 40 tonight,’ and he did it.’’

Chicago also dominated around the boards. They hauled in 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 21 extra points. On the defensive glass, they barely let the Lakers get a second opportunity to score, as they nabbed 40 defensive rebounds. This limited Los Angeles to only 16 second chance points.

The Lakers, despite Butler’s utter dominance, stayed close to Chicago throughout the entirety of the 48 minutes, a testament to not only their coaching, but the players’ belief in the system that has been put in place.

Taj Gibson made a two point shot give the Bulls a 17–10 lead. Then the Lakers battled back. Timofey Mozgov scored four points in a row to trim the lead to three. Chicago answered right back, pushing the advantage to eight points.

At the end of the quarter, Larry Nance Jr. finished a big dunk attempt. Then as time expired, Lou Williams sunk a three to tie things up at 30.

Los Angeles capitalized on that late three-pointer from Williams as they scored five straight to open the second and eight of the opening 10 to make it 40–32. Williams completed an and-one before he hit another three pointer after Brandon Ingram got involved in the offensive action.

The Bulls, though, stormed back. Rookie Denzel Valentine made a three pointer to trim the Lakers lead to only seven before Butler hit both of his free throw attempts. Nikola Mirotic and Valentine hit back-to-back shots from deep to cut the deficit to merely three. Gibson slammed the ball home at the 6:01 mark to get the score to 48–47. Chicago did just enough to stay intact before eventually retaking the lead right before the half ended after Isaiah Canaan made two jumpers in a row.

The momentum shifts continued to swing back and forth entering the third quarter of the game. Los Angeles scored seven straight points to open up a 68–62 advantage following four Julius Randle points and Luol Deng three. Canaan made a three pointer of his own, before missing on his next attempt down the court. But low and behold, Butler was right there to clean up the mess after tipping in the rebound which made it 78–76 deficit.

Gibson continued the Bulls supremacy down low with a massive dunk to tie the game at 78. Then, Butler finished two layups to extend Chicago’s edge to four points late in the third period. That lead only extended to five when the period came to close, giving Chicago confidence heading into the final 12 minutes as they fought through a sizable deficit. 

Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Bulls started to exert their physicality and experience as Los Angeles started to wear down. A Mirotic made basket stretched Chicago’s lead to 10 and they were able to hold on from there on out.

To round off a fantastic night, it was of course Jimmy Butler making both free throws to put the game out of reach.

“Jimmy Butler had a pretty fantastic game … either take away the star or take away the role players,” added Luke Walton on trying to stop Butler from scoring.