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updated: 12/28/2016 10:59 PM

Butler saves Bulls nearly single-handedly

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  • Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, left, reacts after scoring the game winning basket against the Brooklyn Nets at the end of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Chicago. Chicago won, 101-99.

    Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, left, reacts after scoring the game winning basket against the Brooklyn Nets at the end of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Chicago. Chicago won, 101-99.

 
 

The mentor wasn't there to watch, but he joined in the celebration.

With Dwyane Wade in the locker room trying to overcome a migraine, Jimmy Butler put the Chicago Bulls on his back and almost single-handedly salvaged a 101-99 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at the United Center.

Butler scored 40 points and drained a step-back, 20-foot jumper to give the Bulls a much-needed win. Wade said later he was trying to get himself ready in case he was needed in overtime.

"We got the opportunity, I asked the trainer, 'Jimmy going to win it or we going to overtime?' He said he's going to win it," Wade said. "Just to watch him make the shot, his swagger down the stretch was big, we needed it. I love to see the growth in him. I'm proud of him, happy for him."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg called the play, "Get the ball to Jimmy and everyone else get the heck out of the way." Butler let the clock run down and drained the shot over Brooklyn defender Bojan Bogdanovic.

"Everything you all see me do, I do every night. Over and over again," Butler said. "That's where the confidence comes from, the work you put in every single day that you all don't see. That's in the repertoire. I don't use it very often. I've got to save it for end-of-game situations."

Doug McDermott was back after missing a game with a shin injury, which meant the Bulls were at full strength for the first time since the Oct. 31 game at Brooklyn. That was the night Michael Carter-Williams took a bad fall and missed 27 games with wrist and knee injuries.

All sorts of strange things happened in the fourth quarter. Wade was on the floor when it began but went to the bench and then the locker room with the migraine.

"I had a headache before the game," he said. "I took a fall in the second half, didn't hit my head, but I guess the way my body jerked and reacted, it kind of triggered my headache back and I lost a little vision in my eyes.

"I came out on the court, couldn't see the rim. My wife was talking, I couldn't see her, so I decided to come out, come in the back and put some ice on my neck, take some medicine and kind of get my neck massaged."

Not long after that, Butler missed a jumper and fell to the ground holding his right leg in pain. He got up, went to the bench and returned to the game about a minute later.

"Everybody was holding their breath when he went down," Hoiberg said. "It looked pretty serious."

Meanwhile, Nikola Mirotic got into a mini-scuffle with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who was sitting on the Nets bench and refused to give up the ball after it bounced onto his lap. Those players both received technicals.

Brooklyn led 97-90 after Sean Kilpatrick hit a pair of free throws. Butler started the comeback by draining one of the Bulls' few 3-pointers of the night. After Randy Foye missed 2 free throws, Butler made 2 at the line, then Carter-Williams tied the score with a driving lay-in.

It was Carter-Williams' first made basket after 11 straight misses since coming back from his injury.

Butler's jumper gave the Bulls the lead with 27.7 seconds left, but Brook Lopez (33 points) followed with an emphatic dunk over brother Robin with 12.6 seconds remaining.

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