The Bulls Sunday awash in the brilliant scoring of Jimmy Butler with a season high 40 points drowned the Lakers 118-110.
The victory gave the Bulls a 9-5 record and 3-1 on the road trip. They play in Denver Tuesday.
Butler also had seven rebounds and six assists. Nikola Mirotic had 15 points and a career high 15 rebounds and Taj Gibson had 15 points and seven rebounds. Robin Lopez had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Isaiah Canaan off the bench 17 points. Rajon Rondo had four points, nine rebounds and 12 assists. The Bulls shot 51.7 percent.
The Bulls led by 15 with 4:24 left, but the Lakers made a frantic run down the stretch and got within 115-110 with a minute left. The Bulls then committed a five-second inbounds turnovers. But the Lakers missed a three and Butler won a tip from Julius Randle on a jump ball and then Rajon Rondo made a runner to give the Bulls enough room.
It was a rest night for Wade, who didn’t play after a season most 36 minutes in the Saturday loss to the Clippers. Rondo was uncertain with his lingering ankle issue, but started after working out pregame. With Wade out, Butler moved to shooting guard with Mirotic moving in to start at small forward.
And then it was Butler carrying the Bulls to a 30-30 first quarter tie and a 62-61 halftime lead against the Lakers, who are the league’s second highest scoring team and worst defensively in field goal against. The young Lakers coached by Luke Walton push the ball relentlessly and shoot quickly, opening the court and slashing to the basket on follows as the Bulls were beaten several times on follow dunks. But Butler was making Lakers fly like he was a bowling ball, barreling to the basket with a power that dominated the Lakers. Butler scored 19 points in the first half, nine of 10 from the free throw line.
The Bulls jumped out to a 15-7 lead with Gibson working inside as well against Julius Randle. Gibson had eight first quarter points. But the Lakers recovered with Lou Williams and Larry Nance Jr. off the bench to tie at 30 after one. The Bulls risked an all reserve lineup to start the second quarter and the Lakers dominated with a 10-2 run before Gibson and Rondo came back. The Lakers extended their run to 17-4, though rookie Denzel Valentine had his best moments of the season with a pair of threes. Butler then returned to continue the pressure and got some help from Robin Lopez with hooks inside and a followup score for 10 in the half as the Bulls took that 62-61 lead. Williams had 19 in the half. The Bulls shot 57.5 percent in the half and were 13 of 19 on free throws.
The Lakers looked like they were about to take control with a 75-67 lead early in the third quarter with a pair of threes from former Bull Luol Deng. Butler responded pile driving his way to the basket and Gibson with a fabulous lob dunk reaching back over his head for a pass from Rondo. That gave the Bulls an 80-78 lead and with scoring from Canaan with seven points in the third and Butler another dozen the Bulls went into the fourth quarter leading 90-85. Then it was Canaan with a pair of threes and Mirotic with some nice all around play with a three and driving assist for a Bobby Portis score that gave the Bulls a 105-96 lead with under six minutes left.