MINNEAPOLIS – Jimmy Butler made a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining and scored a team-high 24 points as the visiting Chicago Bulls defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-105 on Saturday night at the Target Center.
Butler, who returned to action after missing the end of the preseason and first two regular season games with a left thumb sprain, connected on six of 12 from the field and 11 of 15 from the free throw line. But it was his final two points the Bulls, now 2-1, needed the most.
On the previous possession, Minnesota’s Kevin Martin connected on a three that put his team up 105-104 with 2.9 seconds to go.
Butler had the ball in his hands as the Bulls went for the win, but he slipped as time was about to expire. He recovered just in time, however, to draw a foul from Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins and head to the line.
Pau Gasol tallied 20 points for Chicago, while Aaron Brooks added 16 off the bench.
Chicago led by a basket, 27-25, after a quarter. The second unit provided a spark as Brooks with a quick 10 points and two assists off the bench, including a pair of threes, helped the Bulls to a 39-34 lead with 7:56 left in the second quarter.
With Taj Gibson (left ankle sprain) sidelined, Nikola Mirotic took his spot in the rotation and scored 12 first half points. Brooks finished with 13 points in the first half, as did Butler, and the Bulls took a 63-47 lead into intermission after outscoring the Timberwolves 36-24 in the second quarter.
The Timberwolves, however, countered in the third, outscoring the Bulls 18-6 to open the second half and eventually tying the game at 76 apiece. Minnesota used a 7-0 run in the fourth to reclaim the lead, 95-94, for the first time since the opening quarter.
Martin led Minnesota with a game-high 33 points, while Ricky Rubio dished out a career-high tying 17 assists before fouling out.
Derrick Rose (left and right ankle sprains) was also out of action for the Bulls.
Up next, Chicago returns home to face the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.