TORONTO — It would have been a bad day to have to play Jimmy Butler in H-O-R-S-E.
To try and stop him in a live basketball game?
Toronto found that out up close and personal, as the Bulls guard broke Michael Jordan’s franchise record of points in a half, scoring 40 of his game-high 42 in the final two quarters. And oh by the way, did it in a Bulls comeback win, as they outscored the Raptors 34-26 in the fourth quarter to win, 115-113, Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.
Not only did the Raptors learn that Butler is establishing himself as NBA elite, but also learned never make Butler taste his own blood.
It was in the second quarter in which Butler caught an elbow from DeMarre Carroll, and had to go into the locker room to get stitched up. At that point he was 1-for-4 with just two points.
The man that came out for the second half? Well, Taj Gibson described it best.
“He was a man possessed,’’ Gibson said. “He was so mad when he got hit in the mouth. You can tell, so much blood flowing everywhere, he was so mad. I’ve never seen him get that mad before. He’s been in a rough game before, but especially getting his lip busted. But he came back a man possessed.
“Just going, trying to get stops, kept attacking the basket. It was just one of those nights where you just can’t miss. When he hit that corner three [in the third], I knew it was his night.’’
By the time Butler nailed a three-pointer with just 30.9 seconds to give the Bulls the 112-111 lead, it was more than just “his night.’’ It was a season highlight for the 20-12 Bulls through the first 32 games.
But as far as Butler being put in the same category as a Jordan record? He wasn’t having any of that.
“I’m just happy we won to tell you the truth,’’ Butler said. “I don’t want to be compared to him because you see what he’s done for this game. I’m just happy we got the win. Points or no points, we’re leaving here with a W.
“Don’t compare me to him. That’s exactly what I said. I don’t want to be compared to him because then people are going to think I gotta do what he did. I’m trying. But we’re nowhere near the same player.’’
As far as the bloody mouth, Butler did acknowledge that he wasn’t thrilled with the elbow.
“My confidence is always high,’’ Butler said. “I know how much work I put in in the summertime. I’m not going to make shots every night. But I have to be able to change the game in different ways.’’
Lost in all the Butler hoopla was the news that Derrick Rose would have to undergo an MRI on Monday. While Rose and MRIs have never gotten along, it was time for the two to get reacquainted.
According to Hoiberg, because of some “residual pain’’ in Rose’s right knee area after dealing with right hamstring tendinitis the last week, the team wanted to be safe and have the point guard further evaluated.
Rose, who missed his third-straight game, however, wasn’t concerned.
“I just overworked myself,’’ Rose said of this latest setback. “I gotta figure out the days where I’m going to sit. I have to do a little bit better. But the games I have rolling, just tried to give myself a little bit more than I had, and it backfired on me.’’
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