Butler, Bulls Pound Nets In Regular-Season Finale, NBA Scores


Published on April 13 2017 6:21 am
Last Updated on April 13 2017 6:21 am


Jimmy Butler is ready for the challenge of the postseason.

Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the depleted Brooklyn Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to earn an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Wednesday.

Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under coach Fred Hoiberg.

The Bulls, the No. 8 seed, will open the playoffs Sunday night against No. 1 seed Boston Celtics.

"Looks can be very deceiving. We're all right. We're not worried about who we're playing, we have to focus in on ourselves and play the best Bulls basketball that we can," Butler said.

"Obviously, Boston is a very good team. No. 1 seed on the road, we'll take it, we're in there. It's all about us playing the best basketball at the right time."

Without a dominant regular-season team in the East, Dwyane Wade is holding out hope.

"Everybody had a challenging season. That's what happens when you play in a talented league. Every team, especially in the Eastern Conference, has had its ups and downs, has had a challenging year.

"At the end of the day, our goal was to get to the playoffs and we were able to accomplish that. I'm happy with that, with this team right now," Wade said.

On Tuesday, the Nets, who have the worst record in the league, said Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.

On Saturday, the Nets defeated the Bulls in Brooklyn 107-106 behind Lopez's 13 points and Lin's 12 points.

The decision was controversial, especially with Miami, who needed the Bulls to lose in order to have a chance at the playoffs.

"I'm going to be honest as a competitor, I understand it, I understand the point of view that some of you have, some of the press has and maybe other teams, I do understand it," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game.

"But again, we have to look at it from the Brooklyn Nets franchise and what is best for us and that's how we're looking into it in a vacuum. That's my responsibility as coach."

Archie Goodwin scored 20 points for the Nets and KJ McDaniels finished with 15.

The Nets were 3-for-33 from 3-point range.

"It surprised me how poorly we shot. I thought we got a lot of open looks. We definitely need to shoot better. We have to improve as it was clear tonight. Our perimeter shooting is not where it needs to be," Atkinson said.

Leading 14-11, Zipser sparked the Bulls with eight straight points as they coasted the rest of the way. The Bulls led by as many as 39 and never trailed. Zipser was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

Rajon Rondo was back in the Chicago starting lineup after missing the past three games with a sprained right wrist. He had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes and Wade finished with seven points in 22 minutes in his third game back from an elbow injury.

Pacers 104, Hawks 86

Paul George always expected the Indiana Pacers to make it back to the playoffs.

So when they clinched a spot with Wednesday's 104-86 victory over Atlanta's backups, the four-time All-Star didn't celebrate.

Instead, after scoring 12 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, George and most of his teammates shook hands and traded high-fives, knowing another postseason matchup against LeBron James and the defending champs will be a bigger challenge.

"We have to go out and challenge them and play them straight up. It's going to be tough," George said. "They've been struggling as of late, but they're still one of the best teams in this league and have one of the best players in the world. It's going to be a fun matchup."

Of course the Pacers have been here before.

George still laments two conference finals losses to James' when he was still playing with Miami.

But after an incredibly erratic season, the Pacers should be thrilled to clinch the No. 7 seed in the East and still have a chance to continue playing.

All it took to reach the postseason was five straight wins, George averaging nearly 31 points in those wins and a little help from George's teammates against Atlanta's overmatched B team.

The Hawks benched five of their top six players, and the Pacers took full advantage.

Jeff Teague finished with 19 points and seven assists against his former team before leaving with 2:08 to play after appearing to injure his left ankle. Myles Turner added 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Recently signed Lance Stephenson had four points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 23 minutes.

And now the Pacers have the longest winning streak in the East.

"We had an uphill climb in the sense that we had to win out, our last five games," coach Nate McMillan said. "It's a relief and an excitement to be going into a new season."

Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 points to lead the Hawks, whose four-game winning streak ended. Jose Calderon scored 12 points.

Yet for most of the night, they battled hard.

After trailing 50-43 at halftime and 65-49 midway through the fourth quarter, the Hawks cut the deficit to 92-84 with 5:32 left. But George made a 19-foot turnaround jumper to start the 7-2 run that closed out the game.

"Their activity and their energy was pretty high," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said, referring to the Pacers. "I thought our guys tried to match it. The effort was great, we just weren't quite with it tonight."

Wednesday, April 12 Scoreboard

Orlando 113, Detroit 109

Toronto 98, Cleveland 83

Boston 112, Milwaukee 94

New York 114, Philadelphia 113

Miami 110, Washington 102

Chicago 112, Brooklyn 73

Dallas 100, Memphis 93

Houston 123, Minnesota 118

Denver 111, Oklahoma City 105

Indiana 104,  Atlanta 86

Utah 101, San Antonio 97

Los Angeles Clippers 115, Sacramento 95

Golden State 109, Los Angeles Lakers 94

New Orleans 103, Portland 100

Thursday, April 13

No games scheduled

Friday, April 14

No games scheduled

Saturday, April 15 Schedule (All Times Central)


Indiana at Cleveland, 2 p.m.

Milwaukee at Toronto, 4:30 p.m.

Memphis at San Antonio, 7 p.m.

Utah at Los Angeles Lakers, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 16 Schedule (All Times Central)


Atlanta at Washington, noon

Portland at Golden State, 2:30 p.m.

Chicago at Boston, 5:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Houston, 8 p.m.