NEW YORK—For a second, it appeared as if the Bulls’ never-ending litany of injuries this season would continue, but Jimmy Butler’s hard fall on a transition layup and the subsequent panic that briefly ensued—the swingman, surrounded by concerned teammates after being fouled by rugged Nets power forward Reggie Evans, took his time getting up, received attention from the team’s training staff and left the bench for a quick stint on a stationary bike, but eventually returned to the game—ended up being benign, making Wednesday’s 95-78 win over Brooklyn at the Barclays Center the type of contest every squad wants for Christmas.
“I’m good. I just think my knee gave out and it hurt for a second,” said an upbeat Butler, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence due to a sprained right ankle. “I just feel like it’s kind of unlucky for me the last few weeks.”
Butler, who had previously missed nearly a month of action with a right turf-toe injury this season, joked that he was thankful the injury scare—it was his left knee—wasn’t on the right side of his body.
“I didn’t think I was actually going to beat him to the ball, then I thought Usain Bolt, maybe speed up a little bit. But that’s what I bring to the game and to this team is hustle plays,” recounted Butler, who had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists in the victory. “I was going to dunk it until my knee gave out. That’s the thing that made me mad. I had to throw up that bull-crap layup. Luckily, he pushed me because I was going to miss it. But I was going to dunk that.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was impressed by Butler’s effort on the play and his performance all game.
“Yeah, it was a great play by Jimmy and it was one of those plays, open floor and a lot of speed involved. So hopefully he’s good,” the coach said. “I thought Jimmy was phenomenal. First game and you’ve got guys who are to guard. It requires great concentration and effort, and he did that.”