The Chicago Bulls got some much needed good news when it announced that Jimmy Butler would make his return against the Houston Rockets. His presence was immediately felt.
Butler helped the Bulls break their four-game losing streak Saturday night in a 108-100 win against James Harden and the Rockets. Butler finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in his first game back since Feb. 5.
With the win, Chicago moves to 31-30 and holds onto the final playoff spot in the eastern conference with a half-game lead over the Detroit Pistons. Houston drops to 30-32 and also holds the eighth spot in the western conference, despite losing seven of their last 10 games. The game against the Bulls is the first of a five-game eastern conference road trip, who are 8-15 against the opposing conference, with the loss to Chicago.
Stars Shine in Windy City
Pau Gasol was dominant against the Rockets in every facet of the game. The 35-year old All-Star registered a monster double-double with 28 points, 17 rebounds and added six assists. Gasol is tied for sixth in the NBA with 35 double-doubles.
The 17 boards was two away from his season high 19 he grabbed on Dec. 2 against Denver. He also got it done on the defensive end, recording two blocks and two steals.
(Vide Credit: Aqupas)
Derrick Rose came close to registering a double-double himself, scoring 19 points and dishing out a game-high nine assists. Rose was aggressive early against the Rockets, getting to the basket and drawing attention with Patrick Beverly. The two were called for double-technicals in the first quarter after Rose had the ball stolen away by Beverly, then Butler stole the ball from Harden on the next play for the easy two-handed dunk in the open court.
For Houston, Harden continued to score in bunches and was a big part of Houston making it close down the stretch. He finished with 36 points, eight rebounds and five assists but went just 4-12 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Rockets made 9-35 three-point attempts after making 3-35 in their previous game against New Orleans. Harden had a big third quarter, scoring 14 points while cutting the Chicago lead to 83-75 heading into the fourth quarter.
Game of Runs
While the Bulls led throughout the majority of the contest, including all of the second half, the Rockets often found ways to put together runs that kept them within striking distance. Houston cut a double-digit lead to seven after a 15-7 run made it 68-75 late in the third quarter. Chicago answered with their own run and made it 100-82 with five minutes left in the game after a 17-7 run to open up the fourth quarter.
(Vide Credit: Aqupas)
The Rockets made one final push and thanks to a four-point play by Harden and a three-point make from Beverly, trailed only by four with 35 seconds remaining. After Gasol hit a pair of free throws from the charity stripe, the Rockets got the ball back, trailing 106-100. Harden could not get the quick three to drop with 20 seconds to go, sealing Chicago’s 20th home win of the year.
New and Old Faces
Both sides welcomed both new and old faces back in this one. Butler made his first start after missing 11 games, in which Chicago went just 3-8 without him. Nikola Mirotic played in his first game since Jan. 25 after missing 15 games due to undergoing an appendectomy followed by a hematoma removal. He finished with seven points on 2-3 three-point shooting.
The Rockets welcomed new addition Michael Beasley, who the team signed Friday. In his team debut, Beasley scored two points, but was aggressive, putting up five shots in just over four minutes of action.