The Bulls Saturday rode a big fourth quarter from Dwyane Wade to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-99.
The Bulls saw a 15-point third quarter lead shrink to one early in the fourth quarter. But it was Wade with four straight scores and 17 points in the fourth to hold off the Pelicans and Anthony Davis.
Wade finished with 22 points. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. Taj Gibson had 15 points and a season high 16 rebounds. Robin Lopez had six points and 10 rebounds, nine offensive. Michael Carter-Williams had 11 points. Anthony Davis had 36 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans.
The Bulls had a huge 63-42 advantage in rebounds and 21-6 on the offensive boards that enabled the Bulls to have a season high 101 shot attempts.
The Bulls broke a three-game losing streak and hit the halfway point of the NBA season at 20-21. The Pelicans fell to 16-25.
Butler was back from missing two games with the flu and Denzel Valentine also was able to return, though weakened. Nikola Mirotic remained out ill and wasn’t scheduled to go to Memphis for Sunday’s game. Neither will Wade, who will rest in the second of a back to back and third in four nights. Butler was ready in his return, scoring the first five Bulls points as the Bulls surged out to a 14-6 lead in the first five minutes. The Bulls led 17-8 after a second Butler three, but with the substitutions in the first quarter the Bulls offense stalled and the Pelicans took a 22-21 lead after one. They scored the last nine points of the quarter. Butler had 13 of the Bulls 21 first quarter points and shot five of seven. The rest of the team was four of 17, but Rajon Rondo began the second quarter with a three to return the lead to the Bulls. Rondo would add another three a few minutes later as the Bulls began to extend the lead out to double digits. Rondo also ran a nice series of pick and roll plays with Cristiano Felicio as the Bulls took a 45-34 lead with 4:47 left in the half. Former Bull E’Twaun Moore tried to keep the Pelicans in the game with 10 points in the first half. But Butler had 19 first half points with three of three on three pointers to give the Bulls a 55-45 halftime lead. Davis had 13 points. Felicio was second leading scorer for the Bulls with eight points. The Bulls had a big 31-20 halftime rebounding advantage and 11-3 on offensive rebounds.
The Bulls started the second half notably with more acceleration, Michael Carter-Williams with a runner, Butler with a baseline spin and dunk and Wade connecting with Butler on a two-on-one break for a 63-48 lead three minutes into the third. The Bulls began to pull up for jumpers, giving the Pelicans a chance for a 9-0 run to get within 66-60 on a Moore three with 4:39 left in the third. The Bulls then used their rebounding advantage for second chance points and a 9-4 run and closed the third quarter leading 77-71, the Bulls with a 19-5 offensive rebound lead (18-4 on second chance points) after three quarters and nine for Lopez. But suddenly the Pelicans were gobbling up the Bulls and were within 79-78 early in the fourth quarter with Tyreke Evans scoring. But Wade held off New Orleans with four straight pull up jump shots after missing 11 of his first 13 shots to give the Bulls an 85-80 lead with 9:01 left in the game. Wade then added a three with 7:50 left to avert the scare and as the clock moved under six minutes, the Bulls were holding a 93-86 lead.