Butler’s last-second free throws give Bulls victory

Sports Xchange

February 16, 2017 at 8:52 pm.

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls hit all 22 of their free throws, including a pair by Jimmy Butler with 0.9 seconds left after a touch foul call, to edge the Boston Celtics 104-103 on Thursday night at the United Center.

Trailing 103-102, Butler drew a foul on Marcus Smart off a jump shot on the Bulls’ final possession. The Bulls’ leading scorer stepped to the free-throw line and drilled both foul shots, making him 9 for 9 for the game.

Boston’s Al Horford missed a fadeaway jumper as time expired.

Butler scored 29 points and had seven assists for the Bulls (28-29), who won their second straight game and ended a four-game winning streak by the Celtics (37-20).

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 29 points, including the Celtics’ final 11 points in the fourth quarter. Thomas missed a jumper with 8.4 seconds left to play, which gave the ball back to the Bulls for Butler’s heroics.

Thomas scored 20 or more points for the 41st straight game, setting a franchise record previously held by Hall of Famer John Havlicek.

Five other players scored in double figures for Chicago, led by Robin Lopez with 15 points and Bobby Portis with 19 points and eight rebounds. Three other Celtics joined Thomas in double figures, led by Kelly Olynyk with 17 points off the bench.

Chicago led 81-78 starting the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold the lead. The Celtics tied it at 92 on a 3-pointer by Rozier with 6:15 left and took a 94-92 lead on a layup by Thomas the next trip down the floor. Thomas scored Boston’s next nine points, but the Bulls refused to let a third-quarter comeback effort go to waste.

After trailing the entire first half, the Bulls came out hot in the third and took their first lead with a 12-5 run in the first 3:53 of the frame. Butler’s 3-pointer put them up 64-63 with 8:07 left in the quarter to cap the run, and Jerian Grant did the same after Boston re-took the lead on its next possession.

Grant’s second 3-pointer of the third put the Bulls back up 67-65, and they stayed in front the remainder of the quarter.

The Celtics led 25-22 after the first quarter and 58-52 at the half, after Thomas drilled a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the second. Thomas scored 13 of his 15 first-half points in the second, while Johnson led the way for Boston in the first with 10 points.

The Bulls tied it at 25 on a 3-pointer by McDermott to open the second, and stayed within striking distance thanks to Butler scoring 10 of his 15 first-half points.

NOTES: The Bulls played without starting G Dwyane Wade (right wrist, flu) and rookie F Paul Zipser (left ankle). Zipser missed his fourth game. Wade, who was a part-time participant in practice Wednesday, missed his third game. Wade woke up feeling ill Thursday and didn’t attend Chicago’s morning shoot-around or the game against the Celtics. … Bulls F Nikola Mirotic was available off the bench after missing two games with back spasms. … G Avery Bradley (sore right Achilles tendon) and F Jaylen Brown (right hip strain) didn’t play for Boston. Brown missed his third straight game and Bradley missed his 16th. The Celtics hope Bradley can return to the lineup soon after the All-Star break.