The United Center offered no special promotion Saturday when the Bulls hosted the Kings, but Dwyane Wade put on his own personal turn-back-the-clock night.
Wade scored a team-high 30 points and made two crucial plays to seal a 102-99 victory for the Bulls.
After Robin Lopez’s tip-in tied the score at 99 in the closing minute, Wade swiped the ball from Garrett Temple and made one of two free throws after getting a questionable foul call on the breakaway. On the next possession, Wade had another steal and delivered an assist to Michael Carter-Williams for the final margin.
“Obviously getting the stops, the two key ones late, those were huge,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.
“I loved Dwyane’s mentality coming out of the gate. We got him a couple of post touches early, got him into a rhythm. I thought he was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. I thought he was terrific.”
With the Bulls up by one with 14 seconds left, Kings coach Dave Joerger did what any sane person in his position would do: He called DeMarcus Cousins’ number.
Cousins led all scorers with 42 points on 16-for-28 shooting, but he wasn’t able to deliver.
When Cousins made his move, Taj Gibson tied him up long enough for Wade to make a play on the ball.
“It was just reading, just understanding a player’s tendencies,” Wade said. “He loves to go right. He went left first, and Taj did a great job. Being on the weak side and knowing that is a tough pass for him, I took a gamble, and luckily I was in the right place at the right time.”
The victory halted a two-game skid for the Bulls (22-23), who have beaten Sacramento (16-27) four consecutive times.
“It was night and day from last night,” Hoiberg said, referring to Friday’s sleepy loss to the Hawks in which the Bulls were down by 35 at one point. “Our energy was really good all game long.
‘‘Cousins was unguardable for pretty much the majority of the game. Taj did a solid job on him when they’d put him in the post against the smaller defender. When Robin was on him, they’d put him on the perimeter and let him shoot three-pointers. He’s a monster out there. You try to make it as difficult as possible. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but we got just enough stops to find a way to win.”
Jimmy Butler added 23 points and seven assists, and the bench continued to come around for the Bulls.
Paul Zipser (13 points) had a career high for a second consecutive night, and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 11 points.
But no one showed a bigger sense of the moment than Wade.
“I would’ve liked to have a little bit bigger lead late in the fourth quarter,” Hoiberg said. “But when you find yourself in a situation like that late in a close game, you’ve gotta find a way to rise up and make big plays.”
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