By Jessica Patton
TORONTO — Jimmy Butler might have bested Michael Jordan’s record, but don’t compare the two just yet.
With 40 points in the second half to lead the Bulls' 115-113 comeback victory against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Butler eclipsed Jordan’s record of 39, something that he didn’t even know until after the game.
“I am just happy we won to tell you the truth. I don’t want to be compared to him because you’ve seen what he’s done for this game,” a smiling Butler said.
“I made a couple of shots. It shows how much confidence my teammates and my coach has in me to put the ball in my hand late.”
The 26-year old had been held to just two points before taking a DeMarre Carroll elbow to the face that caused him to leave the game and get stitched up.
When he returned, the Texas native was an animal, shooting fade away shots, hitting 3-pointers and getting to the free-throw line. It almost appeared as if Butler could do no wrong.
Put simply by teammate Taj Gibson, “He came back a man possessed.”
Pau Gasol, who has witnessed a lot of great performances in his 14 years, ranked Butler’s play high on his list, not for the points the guard tallied but for how and when he scored.
“He did it in a very efficient way, and he did it in a way that was critical for us to win the ball game,” explained Gasol, who had 19 points. “It’s not that you’re up 20 and suddenly you get hot, you make shots, shoot a low percentage and still score a lot of points. He did it in a way that was critical for us and just played an incredible second half for our team.”
Butler was sensational on the offensive end, adding five assists to his 42 points, but he was equally strong on the defensive end, proving he is one of the best all-around guards in the NBA. His defensive awareness held DeMar DeRozan to just two points in the fourth quarter and frustrated Kyle Lowry at times, as well.
“He did it on both ends,” Gasol said. “To me that’s even more impressive, that you’re not guarding a non-threat offensively.”
While Butler knows Carroll didn’t punch him on purpose, the four-year veteran was a little mad that he ruined his swagger. The hit left him with a lacerated lip that was already visibly swollen after the game and according to Butler will force him to “not go on a date for a while.”
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Once the final buzzer sounded, ending the victory for the Bulls and putting Butler in the record books, the team came together after the game to make sure they took in the moment.
“We were just talking about, 'We have to build off of this, don’t settle,'” Butler explained when asked about the huddle. “Try to win as many games as possible.”
Next up for the Bulls is a game against the division-rival Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. All eyes will be on Butler to see how he follows up his record-breaking show.
“My confidence is always high. I know how much work I put in in the summertime. I am not going to make the shots every night, but I have to be able to change the game in different ways.
“Tonight was one of those nights where I made the shots go in.”