Game 81: Chicago Bulls (41-40) defeat New Orleans Pelicans (30-51), 121-116
April 11, 2016
United Center – Chicago
The Bulls shut down Taj Gibson, E’Twaun Moore and Pau Gasol for the season, and Derrick Rose joined the trio on the inactive list, leaving the Bulls to resort to using their 24th different starting lineup this season.
Jimmy Butler decided to play the last two games of the season and remained in the starting lineup — but as the point guard — to join Justin Holiday, Mike Dunleavy, Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio.
That starting lineup fared well to start, giving the Bulls a seven-point lead a little over four minutes into the game. Dunleavy, in particular, got off to a hot start, scoring seven points. But the Pelicans got going soon afterward, and the Bulls slowed down a bit with their second unit, giving the Pelicans a two-point lead heading into the second quarter.
The Pelicans used a 16-3 run in the second to extend their lead to 10 points. That run woke up the Bulls, but only momentarily.
The Bulls got back within two points of tying the game but couldn’t get any closer than that. A pair of free throws from Luke Babbitt, another pair of Tim Frazier, a dunk by James Ennis and a layup from former Bull Omer Asik later, and the Bulls trailed by 10 yet again.
The Bulls used a strong third quarter to get back in the game, though. They outscored the Pelicans 36-26, which was enough to keep the game close throughout the fourth quarter.
Butler, specifically, was on a roll in the last 3:30 of the game, scoring 11 points to solidify the Bulls’ win.
Player of the Game
Felicio matched his career-high with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He played 27 minutes in his third career start and grabbed six rebounds.
Butler went off in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points to bring his game totals to 23 points. He also acted as the primary point guard and fared well with 11 assists and added three rebounds and a block.
In an essentially meaningless game, the Bulls managed to have their best shooting game of the season. Their 57.1 percent from the field was a new season-high. Felicio and Holiday were the most efficient offensive players, as they each shot 6-for-8 from the field.
Seven Bulls scored in double figures Monday night: all of the starters, Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. This just goes to show the Bulls have plenty of offensive talent — this came despite the fact Gasol, Gibson, Moore, Joakim Noah and Rose were all absent.
The Pelicans’ eight steals gave them a bit of an advantage over the Bulls. It wasn’t enough for them to take home the win, but it helped the Pelicans have a legitimate chance at it.
The Bulls will close out the season Wednesday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.