MINNEAPOLIS – A surprise late starter, Jimmy Butler scored a career-high-tying 20 points, and Nate Robinson added 22 points and 10 assists as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-97 Sunday night at Target Center.
The Bulls played without Joakim Noah, Richard Hamilton, Derrick Rose and Marco Belinelli, the latter of which was a surprise late scratch with a strained abdominal and gave Butler his chance. Butler also grabbed nine rebounds.
Robinson hit a 3-pointer and fed Butler for a foul and two free throws when the Timberwolves pulled within five points in the fourth quarter.
One night after logging a season-high 31 minutes in a 87-84 win over Indiana, Nazr Mohammed drew the start again with Noah sidelined again by plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Noah didn’t travel, and coach Tom Thibodeau called the Bulls’ emotional leader “day-to-day.”
It was the sixth game overall that Noah has missed this season and fifth with plantar fasciitis.
“It just started bothering him again,” Thibodeau said. “So we just felt it was best to let it calm down a little bit.”
The Bulls led by as many as 16 and placed an exclamation point on the first half with Robinson’s alley-oop to Taj Gibson for an emphatic slam with just under 5 seconds remaining. Gibson posted 12 points and 11 rebounds in his third straight active effort off the bench.
Mohammed joked he would need some pain relievers and plenty of water to recover from his extended assignment on Saturday. He grabbed 10 rebounds Sunday.