Jimmy Butler's triple-double leads Bulls past Sixers: 'We don't care how we do it'

Jimmy Butler's triple-double leads Bulls past Sixers: 'We don't care how we do it'

PHILADELPHIA—Survive and advance.

That's the mantra—or at least it should be for the Chicago Bulls as they trudge through the last road trip of the season, trying to wipe the bad taste from their mouths after an ugly loss to the woeful New York Knicks Tuesday night.

And as the equally-dreadful Philadelphia 76ers gave the Bulls another chance for them not to play down to their level of competition, the Bulls emerged with a ugly 102-90 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia Thursday night.

The win keeps pace with Miami and Indiana at the seventh spot in the East with three games remaining.

"That's it man," said Jimmy Butler, who put up his second triple-double of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. "We don't care how we do it, how many points we score, how many stops we get. Whenever you win, that's all you want this time of year."

Butler had to take additional playmaking duties with Rajon Rondo sidelined with a wrist injury, but needed help from his one-night wingman, Nikola Mirotic, to secure the Westbrookian feat.

With nine assists, Butler didn't deny the statistical accomplishment was in his mind with the game essentially in hand.

"I definitely (knew)," Butler said. "Niko said, you need one more?"

Butler replied, then Mirotic issued the directive that displayed the confidence of a new man this time of year.

"Okay then throw it to me. You throw it to me, I'll shoot it," Mirotic told Butler.

Catch, fire, swish.

Mirotic had his best game since the calendar turned to April with 22 points and seven rebounds, as the triple with less than three minutes left to give the Bulls a 15-point lead, essentially ending any thought of a 76ers threat.

"My shot is feeling great right now. Even though I take tough shots, deep shots, I feel like I'm gonna make them," Mirotic said. "When you make a shot, it's time to shoot. When you don't, try to find a way to make a play. It's going good so far and that's all that matters."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bulls tickets right here!]

The 76ers shot 21 percent from the 3-point line and considering they had very little to lose, being in the lottery and playing out the string, hoisted up 33 attempts, refusing to alter their approach when it was clear nobody had a shot going.

The Bulls held rookie Dario Saric to nine points on three of eight shooting in 22 minutes, a stark contrast to his 32-point, 10-rebound showing that he'll use on his Rookie of the Year highlight tape for the media voting on the award.

Tim Luwawu-Cabarrot led the 76ers with 18 points and Justin Anderson scored 17 for the 76ers, a team that beat the Bulls soundly at the United Center a short time ago.

But the two leading scorers combined to go 12 for 26 and three for 12 from the 3-point line, hardly a model of efficiency.

It contributed to shooting 35 percent on the night, but they stayed in the game with pesky play, forcing 16 Bulls turnovers and routinely getting to loose balls quicker than the team that apparently has something to play for.

Holding a 40-26 lead, the 76ers crept back in to slice it in half before the half, and when the Bulls restored order at 68-52 midway through the third, the 76ers cut it to single-digits three times but did little more than hang around.

"When you get that lead and go up 16, I'd love one night to push that thing up to 25 and rest some guys a little bit," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We can't be satisfied, we gotta go into Brooklyn with the mindset that we have to battle."

Jerian Grant gave the coaching staff something to think about after getting his first taste of significant playing time since being benched for Rondo last month. 

Bashful he was not, scoring from the perimeter and being aggressive on drives to the basket—playing with a sense of freedom that belies the fact he doesn't know what will happen to his role when Rondo returns, scoring 15 points in 31 minutes.

"I thought he had some aggressive takes to the basket," Hoiberg said. "For being in and out the rotation, he's only gotten a little time to get out there and play. To step in for a guy and fill those shoes isn't easy. I thought Jerian played very solid tonight."

Aesthetically pleasing it was not, per custom with the Bulls. Whether the implementation of their 21st starting lineup in 79 games or the 76ers having a roster full of players not usually associated with NBA basketball, they certainly didn't seem the least bit aroused.

There were stretches where the Bulls looked serious about things but the malaise and sloppiness was far more common. Taking a double-digit lead meant giving it right back in a quick manner to make the 76ers feel like they were at home and belonged on the floor with the Bulls.

But they could only masquerade but for so long, as the Bulls pulled away and stayed away, looking ahead to their last road game of the regular season.

On to Brooklyn.

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Miami Marlins center fielder Monte Harrison made a bit of history on Aug. 4, when he laced up for his first ever MLB game.

With his debut, he and older brother Shaq officially became just the sixth MLB-NBA brother duo in league history. The most recent? Klay and Trayce Thompson, the latter of which appeared in his last MLB game on June 20, 2018 for the White Sox. Chicago ties all around.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bulls news and analysis.

Shaq used his trademark brand of heart and hustle to work his way up from two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns to a multi-year pact with the Bulls. Monte's path to the majors began in 2014 after the Milwaukee Brewers plucked him in the second round of the Amateur Draft from Lee's Summit West High School in Lee's Summit, Mo. He was jettisoned to Miami as part of the Christian Yelich trade in 2018. 

In 2019, Monte played 58 games between Miami's High-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .270/.351/.441 with 9 home runs, 24 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He's been known to flash some leather, too, and entered this season the club's tenth-ranked prospect.

Since his call-up, he's appeared in four contests (three starts) with the Marlins, and is just 1-for-10 at the plate with five strikeouts. But we'll forgive some early-career stumbles. His first big-league base-knock, which came on Thursday, was perfectly emblematic of what Bulls fans have come to expect from the Harrison household.

Yup. A cue-shot infield single. Exit velocity: 44.3 mph. Expected batting average: .190. But he beat it out. And followed it up with a stolen base. You can't script this stuff.

"I don’t know what my mother did, a lot of prayers, a lot of believing, and trust in us," Monte said after his debut on Tuesday, via Bob Nightengale. "We just worked our ass off.''

That much is evident.

RELATED: How Bulls’ Shaq Harrison impacts games, even with limited playing time


Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

With the NBA restarting with 22 of its 30 teams, there was buzz in early July of a second bubble coming to Chicago for the eight teams excluded to get in organized team activities and possibly scrimmages.

Now, it appears those talks have significantly slowed, if not stalled entirely.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that there is "significant doubt" the second bubble concept will come to fruition, but Friday, that bringing the "Delete Eight" teams into the Disney campus has been discussed. Any agreement — whether it be a full-on bubble or respective, in-market OTAs — would require stringent safety protocols and need to be agreed upon by the league and NBPA.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut:

Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association.

How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn't mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it's a non-starter for her.

The league's attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you'd also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL.

And I don't think that's dead, but there's certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it's fluid, and there's nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams. 

In the episode, the crew also breaks down the week in NBA bubble action, talks Jim Boylen and more. Listen here or via the embedded player below: