Jimmy Butler’s triple-double moves the Bulls closer to postseason

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PHILADELPHIA — Aesthetics were given the night off Thursday.

All that mattered to the Bulls was that they scored more points than the 76ers.

Style points, shooting percentages, rebound differential? All were meaningless with three games remaining in the regular season and the Bulls doing all they can to keep a tight grip on a playoff spot.

Thanks to a 102-90 victory over a sinking 76ers team at the Wells Fargo Center, the Bulls did just that, improving to 39-40 and holding down the No. 7 spot.

Indiana (39-40) beat Milwaukee to move into the No. 8 spot with Miami (38-40) idle.

The Bulls own the tiebreaker over both the Pacers and Heat, so they were sitting in a good spot with two games remaining against the Nets and one against the Magic.

No wonder Jimmy Butler was all smiles after the game.

Maybe his fourth career triple-double (19 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) also had something to do with it.

“We don’t care how we do it,’’ Butler said. “We don’t care how many points we score, how many stops we get. Whenever you win, that’s all you want this time of year, and what we’re trying to have happen these next three games, we need them, we need a win.

“Right now just win. I don’t care how it looks. Get to where we want to get to one day at a time, but when you’re looking forward and you win, you’ll be where you want to be at.’’

That was the mentality leading into the game with the 76ers (28-51), especially when the team found out that Rajon Rondo would be sidelined with a right wrist sprain, and Butler would handle most of the point-guard duties.

Not a problem for Butler, who often takes that role late in games. But with a few minutes remaining and a healthy lead, Butler also knew he needed one assist to complete the triple-double. That’s when leading scorer Nikola Mirotic (22 points) stepped in.

“I told him, ‘Jimmy, we’re going to play pick-and-pop, and I’m going to shoot that ball. It doesn’t matter if it’s a far shot or not, just give me the ball,’ ’’ Mirotic said. “It was a really deep shot, I scored it, and I was really happy for his triple-double. He deserved it.’’

Butler was the victim of an exuberant high-five from Bobby Portis (12 points, 11 rebounds) earlier in the game that almost injured Butler’s hand.

“I know if Bobby smacks my hand like that again we’re going to go toe-to-toe,’’ Butler said loudly, with Portis within earshot.

The Bulls could have Dwyane Wade (right elbow) back for their game Saturday in Brooklyn.

“Even though we’re playing good right now without him, if we’re going to make the playoffs without D-Wade we don’t have any chance,’’ Mirotic said. “I can tell you that right now. We need D-Wade, we need his experience. He knows how to play those games. We don’t have much experience and we’re going to need him, and he’s working so hard to get back.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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