Bulls 121, Pelicans 116
NEW ORLEANS — Playing point guard for most of the game, Jimmy Butler scored a team-high 23 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:40 left, to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 121-116 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at the Smoothie king Center.
Butler scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and led Chicago back from a 96-93 deficit. Butler, who had 11 assists, also hit a driving left-hand layup that gave Chicago a lead with 3:30 to play.
The Bulls (41-40) scored 11 consecutive points — six by Doug McDermott — to take a 104-96 lead. After the Pelicans tied the game at 108 on a scoop shot in the lane by guard Tim Frazier, Butler scored the Bulls' next nine points to secure the victory.
New Orleans (30-51) was led by James Ennis with a career-high 29 points and by Toney Douglas with 21.
Cristiano Felicio scored 10 third-quarter points to help the Bulls erase a nine-point halftime deficit and give them an 89-88 lead heading to the fourth. Felicio was 3-for-4 from the field and made all four free throws in the period, and he finished the night with 16 points.
Nikola Mirotic added 20 points for Chicago.
Playing against his former team, Omer Asik scored 11 first-half points and grabbed seven rebounds before the break in leading the Pelicans to a 62-53 halftime lead. Frazier also had 11 points by intermission, with three coming on free throws as he was fouled outside the arc just before the halftime buzzer.
The Pelicans trailed by seven points early but closed out the first quarter with a 19-10 run to take a 29-27 lead. The Pelicans dressed out only eight players and got a quick injury scare when Douglas went down in a heap on a driving layup attempt one minute into the game.
That left New Orleans temporarily with only seven healthy players, but Douglas came back a few minutes later.
The Bulls got 11 first-half points from Justin Holiday and shot 52.4 percent, but their passive defense allowed New Orleans to hit six of 11 3-point attempts before halftime.
For the game, Chicago hit 57.1 percent of its field-goal attempts, while New Orleans shot 51.3 percent from the floor.
NOTES: In the wake of the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints DE Will Smith after a traffic accident on Saturday night, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry decried gun violence but said the city should not be branded as lawless. “It was a senseless thing; it was ridiculous,” Gentry said. “The whole gun thing makes me sick to my stomach.” … Bulls C Pau Gasol was held out of Monday night's game because of a knee injury. … Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said rookie F/C Cristiano Felicio has shown great potential and could be a starter next year. “(He) fits with the way we want to play, with him running to the rim and rolling hard with his ball screen, opening up the floor for the shooter, setting such great screens,” Hoiberg said.