With the Chicago Bulls having their second game of a back-to-back on Sunday night, head coach Fred Hoiberg decided to give 34-year-old star Dwyane Wade the night off (Wade scored 28 points in 36 minutes vs the Clippers the night before).
The Bulls’ other star, Jimmy Butler, decided he had to take things up a notch with Wade out against the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the game, Butler told Hoiberg that he was going for 40 points:
Fred Hoiberg says Jimmy Butler told him before the game that he was going for 40 tonight.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) November 21, 2016
And Butler went out and scored exactly 40 points in the Bulls’ 118-110 win over the Lakers. He did so in very impressive fashion, going an efficient 14-of-23 from the field and 12-of-14 at the free throw line. He completely took the game over and the Lakers had no answer for him, even when they knew he was driving to the basket.
Here are video highlights of Butler doing what he said he planned to:
Hoiberg talked about Butler after the win:
“He is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence, and that’s where it starts,” Hoiberg said. “If you believe you can do it, that’s a pretty good place to start. Jimmy thinks every time he steps on the floor he’s the best player out there, and more often than not he’s right. That’s a big thing is the confidence and the belief in yourself, and he definitely has that.”
And Butler explained mindset entering the game with Wade out:
“I just felt like that’s what my team was going to need from me to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “For me to be aggressive, to put the ball in the basket, with our second-leading scorer out, I knew I had to pick up the pace a little bit. So that was my mindset. Play defense as well but go out and put the ball in the hole.”
The 27-year-old forward continues to just get better and better:
Eyes say Jimmy Butler has taken another step. So do numbers. 18th in Real Plus-Minus last year, Butler is 3rd. And that was before Sunday.
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) November 21, 2016
[Quotes via ESPN]