CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler was all over the place. He drove inside for big baskets. He made his foul shots. He even guarded Anthony Davis for a while.
While the Chicago Bulls campaign for an All-Star spot for the dynamic guard, Butler is making his argument on the court.
Butler scored 33 points, Derrick Rose had 19 and Chicago beat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-100 on Saturday night for its sixth consecutive victory.
“I feel like we got a lot of easy baskets as a team,” Butler said. “We rebounded the ball well and we got out into the open court and we got a lot of layups. When we’re playing like that, I think we’re really, really hard to beat.”
The Bulls (21-9) also had three reserves score in double figures in their ninth win in 10 games. Aaron Brooks scored 13 points, and Taj Gibson added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought our bench gave us a great lift,” coach Tom Thibodeau said, “and then down the stretch Derrick and Jimmy made one big play after the next.”
Davis had 29 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots in his first NBA game in his hometown. Tyreke Evans scored 26 points for the Pelicans, and Jrue Holiday had 19 points and seven assists.
The Pelicans (15-15), who were coming off a 97-90 victory over San Antonio on Friday night, committed 15 turnovers and were outrebounded 45-37 by the Bulls.
“Tough loss for us because we played really well last night,” coach Monty Williams said. “Tough back-to-back, but we played against a really good team, and it’s a good lesson for us that we have to take care of the ball and not give up extra possessions.”
New Orleans pulled within seven with 2:58 remaining, but Rose then drove inside for a dunk. After Evans converted another layup, Butler had a three-point play that made it 104-94 with 1:49 to go.
“We’re getting more and more comfortable with what we are trying to do at the end of the game,” said Joakim Noah, who had seven points and nine rebounds for the Bulls.
Davis was greeted with mostly cheers from the sold-out crowd of 21,935. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 draft had a mild concussion when New Orleans visited Chicago during his rookie year, and he broke his left hand before the Pelicans’ road game against the Bulls last December.
The 6-foot-10 Davis got a chance to play at the United Center in August with the U.S. national team and scored 20 points in a 95-78 victory over Brazil in a tuneup for the World Cup of Basketball. Davis then helped Team USA win the gold medal in Spain, and carried over his stellar play into his third season with New Orleans.
It was more of the same in his return to Chicago, with Davis showing off his breathtaking game on both ends of the court. In one typical sequence in the first quarter, he blocked a shot by Pau Gasol, and then used a spin move to set up a nifty left-handed layup that gave the Pelicans a 22-21 lead.
After Davis banked in a turnaround jumper while being fouled by Butler in the third, a fan behind the basket yelled “Woooooo! Chi-town boy!” Davis then made the foul shot to trim Chicago’s lead to 53-52 with 9:27 remaining.
“I just want to win,” Davis said. “My whole goal coming here tonight was to win this basketball game, and we didn’t, so gotta go back to the drawing board and see what we did wrong.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.