Jimmy Butler scores 40, nails buzzer-beater lifting Bulls over Nets 101-99 (VIDEO)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler matched his season high with 40 points and hit an 18-footer at the buzzer roughly five minutes after being helped off the court with an apparent injury Wednesday night to give the Chicago Bulls a 101-99 comeback victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Butler scored nine points in the final 2 1/2 minutes to rally Chicago. He finished 11 for 11 from the free throw line and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Bulls overcame a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes for their second consecutive win.

With just more than five minutes left, Butler came down on the foot of Brooklyn guard Randy Foye and had to be helped off the court.

Dwyane Wade had 16 points before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a migraine.

Brook Lopez had 33 points – including a career-high five 3-pointers – as the Nets dropped their 12th straight road game.

Lopez had 19 first-half points to spark Brooklyn to a 49-46 halftime lead. The 7-footer was 4 for 5 on 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes and celebrated by holding up three fingers as he ran down the court following each one.

Brooklyn had a 97-90 lead with just more than two minutes to play and appeared headed for a comfortable win, but Chicago stormed back. Michael Carter-Williams tied the game at 97 with 1:22 left.

It was his first basket since returning Monday from a nearly two-month absence because of injuries to his left knee and wrist. He had missed his first 10 field goal attempts.

Following a Nets turnover, Butler gave the Bulls their first lead of the second half with a 15-footer with 27.7 seconds to go. Lopez, though, tied it with 12.6 seconds left on a dunk over his brother, Robin Lopez.

That set the stage for Butler.

TIP-INS

Nets: There’s no timetable yet for how long G Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) will be sidelined, but expectations are it’ll be a long absence. He missed 17 games earlier in the season with the same injury and has only played in 12 games this season. … G Joe Harris, who sat out with a hip pointer, is listed as day-to-day.

Bulls: F Doug McDermott returned after missing one game with a left shin injury. That meant all the team’s players were healthy for the first time since Oct. 31. “It’s good to have your full roster available to play,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’ll put the lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win.”

 

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.