CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Nikola Mirotic had 17 points and seven assists in one of his best games of the season, and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 108-81 on Friday night.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and eight rebounds as Chicago won for the fourth time in five games while avenging a blowout loss at New York on Dec. 19. Rookie reserve Bobby Portis had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his third consecutive game scoring in double figures.
The Bulls blew a 17-point lead before pulling away from the Knicks in the fourth quarter. Portis made two free throws, Mirotic connected from deep and Butler had a driving layup to close out a 20-6 run that made it 97-79 with 4:48 left.
Chicago played without Derrick Rose, who missed his second straight game due to right hamstring tendinitis. The 2011 NBA MVP got treatment before the matchup, but was unable to go.
It looked as if New York was going to get run out of the building early on. The Knicks missed their first 10 shots and needed almost 4 minutes to score their first points of 2016, a layup for rookie Kristaps Porzingis with 8:05 left in the opening quarter.
When Mirotic blocked Lance Thomas‘ shot and hit a 3-pointer at the other end, Chicago had a 23-6 lead.
But the Knicks slowly chipped away at the deficit. They got it down to 56-50 at halftime, and Porzingis’ hook shot put New York in front for the first time at 67-65 with 5:20 left in the third.
WAITING FOR NOAH
Bulls center Joakim Noah missed his fifth straight game with a left shoulder sprain, but coach Fred Hoiberg said Noah is doing very well.
“He’ll get retested, re-evaluated on Monday and then we’ll have a better idea with how long he’ll be out,” Hoiberg said. “Hopefully, at least in our room and in our circle, we’re hoping that he gets cleared right away.”
When asked about a timetable for Noah’s return if he gets cleared on Monday, Hoiberg said it will depend on what the doctors say.
Knicks: New York has dropped its last nine games at the United Center. … Thomas finished with 11 points.
Bulls: Butler has at least one steal in his last 39 games for the longest active streak in the league. … It was the franchise’s 4,000th regular-season game.