NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 39 points and the Chicago Bulls sustained their playoff push with a 117-110 victory over the recently resurgent New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
Butler made 14 of 26 shots, including all three of his 3-point shots, to help the Bulls win for the fifth time in six games. Chicago entered the day in a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with Miami and Indiana.
Butler’s final points came on a step-back jumper with 20 seconds left stem a late Pelicans run.
Bobby Portis scored 21 points and Joffrey Lauvergne 15 for the Bulls, while Rajon Rondo added 10 points, nine assists, nine rebounds and three steals.
Anthony Davis had 30 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, while DeMarcus Cousins added 26 points and 18 rebounds.
Chicago led by 13 with less than three minutes left, but New Orleans quickly got as close as six when Davis’ jumper capped a 7-0 run that began with Jrue Holiday’s 3.
But New Orleans missed a chance to get closer when Paul Zipser blocked Holiday’s transition layup with 36 seconds left. Butler then drained his final basket, a 20-footer over Holiday from the right side, to give the Bulls the breathing room they needed to close it out comfortably.
Holiday finished with 17 points and reserve Jordan Crawford had 15.
Lauvergne shot 5 of 7 and Chicago finished at 48.9 percent (45 of 92) for the game, including 13 of 26 from 3-point range.
Chicago spent virtually the entire first half in the lead. When New Orleans trimmed a nine-point deficit to two late the first quarter, the Bulls responded with a 12-0 run ignited by Butler’s layup and Portis’ 21-foot jumper. The Pelicans methodically trimmed Chicago’s lead back down to five, only to see the Bulls race away again with an 11-0 run.
Butler hit nine of his first 11 shots and it didn’t seem to matter who guarded him. He made everything from a short step-back fade over the 6-foot-11 Davis to decisive mid-range jumpers coming off of screens and a pair of 3s in the first half, when he had 25 points.
Portis his six of his first seven shots. His and Butler’s accuracy helped Chicago shoot nearly 57 percent during the opening 24 minutes. The Bulls led by as many as 19 in the second quarter before going into the halftime up 63-47.
Bulls: Chicago has hit at least 10 3s in each of its past seven games. … The Bulls have won seven straight against the Pelicans and coach Fred Hoiberg improved to 4-0 against New Orleans.
Pelicans: New Orleans had its six-game home winning streak snapped. … New Orleans made a season-high 34 free throws on 35 attempts. … Crawford has scored 10 or more points in 13 of the 14 games he has played for the Pelicans, but went 1 of 6 on 3s against Chicago after entering the game shooting about 45 percent from deep.
Bulls: Visit New York on Tuesday night.
Pelicans: Host Denver on Tuesday night.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.