Jimmy Butler took the hit and responded in a record-setting way.
Butler fired in 40 of his 42 points in the second half, including the tie-breaking triple with 30.6 seconds left Sunday, rallying the Chicago Bulls to a dramatic 115-113 road victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Butler caught fire and broke Michael Jordan’s 1988 franchise scoring record for a half after needing a stitch to close a gash in his upper lip following a second-quarter elbow to the mouth while defending DeMarre Carroll.
“I was mad,” Butler said. “We went back to the locker room at halftime and I told my guys I was going to be aggressive.”
Once the All-Star guard got going, he was unstoppable, shooting 14-of-19 from the field in the final 24 minutes.
“We tried everybody and everything but couldn’t get him stopped,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “He got everything he wanted. He had one of those nights, mostly in the second half.”
Spaniard Pau Gasol had 19 points with 13 rebounds, and Montenegrin Nikola Mirotic netted 17 for Chicago (20-12) which matched a season-high fourth straight win.
“It’s not just that he scored a lot of points,” Gasol said. “He did it in a very efficient way that was critical for us to win the ballgame.”
Bulls starting point guard Derrick Rose missed his third straight game because of right hamstring tendinitis. The former league MVP is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Trailing 60-48 at halftime and by 15 midway through the third quarter, Butler went off for 21 points on an array of drives and pull-up jumpers to draw the Bulls within 87-81.
The one-man show continued, as Butler dropped in 19 more in the final frame. After missing a rare jumper, E’twaun Moore’s put-back squared the contest at 109-apiece with 58 seconds left.
A turnaround jumper by Kyle Lowry with 40.8 seconds gave the Raptors their least lead at 111-109. Butler, then, buried the go-ahead off-balance triple from the right corner for a 112-111 lead but missed the ensuing free throw after drawing a foul on Carroll.
A dunk by Jonas Valanciunas pulled Toronto within 114-113 but Butler split 1-of-2 free throws with 4.6 ticks left.
The Bulls were able to exhale only after DeMar DeRozan’s potential game-winning triple rimmed out at the buzzer, as the 19,800 fans quietly filed out of Air Canada Centre.
DeRozan scored 24 points while Lowry and Argentine Luis Scola netted 22 apiece for the Raptors (21-14), who lost their seventh straight meeting in the series, courtesy Butler.
“It was amazing, he got hot and scored 40 points in the half and we couldn’t contain him.” DeRozan said.
“We have to do a better job of getting the ball out his hands and making someone else beat us.”
• New York Knicks 111, Atlanta Hawks 97: Arron Afflalo scored a season-high 38 points on 14-of-17 shooting, including seven triples, and the Knicks beat the visiting Hawks.
Robin Lopez had 16 points and 11 rebounds for New York (16-19) which moved within a win of matching last season’s entire victory total. Paul Millsap had 19 points for the Hawks (21-14) who will host Tuesday’s rematch.
• Miami Heat 97, Washington Wizards 75: Chris Bosh tossed in 23 points, Slovenian Goran Dragic added 18, and the Heat (20-13) outscored the Wizards (15-17) 25-7 in the pivotal second quarter en route to the runaway road win.
• Portland Trail Blazers 112, Denver Nuggets 106: CJ McCollum scored 25 points, Gerald Henderson added 19 off the bench, and the visiting Trail Blazers (15-21) handed the stumbling Nuggets (12-23) a sixth straight loss.
Italy’s Danilo Gallinari wasted a game-high 29 for Denver (12-23) which made just 31-of-46 free throws.
• LA Lakers 97, Phoenix Suns 77: Lou Williams hit seven triples en route to a season-high 30 points, Larry Nance Jr had 15 with 14 rebounds, and the Lakers (8-27) sent the struggling Suns to a ninth straight loss.
The Lakers ran their season-high winning streak to three without Kobe Bryant who sat out his second straight contest with a sore right shoulder.
Brandon Knight scored 25 for the visiting Suns (12-25) who trailed 43-22 at halftime and by as many as 38 in the third quarter before making the final result respectable.
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