TORONTO (AP) - Before his team faced the surging Bulls, Toronto coach Dwane Casey praised Chicago for being “at the head of the class” when it comes to defense.
Later on, with the outcome in the balance, Jimmy Butler showed why he’s one of the Bulls’ top students.
Butler blocked DeMar DeRozan’s potential go-ahead jump shot with 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Bulls clinging to a one-point lead.
Kirk Hinrich scored 19 points, Butler had 16 and Taj Gibson fouled out with 10 as the Bulls won for the fifth time in six games and halted Toronto’s winning streak at three. Joakim Noah added eight points and 13 assists for Chicago.
“Each year, I think, he’s improved significantly to the point where he’s as good as it gets,” Thibodeau said. “There’s constant pressure on you.”
Butler had one thought on his mind as he lined up to defend DeRozan after a Toronto timeout in the dying moments of the fourth.
“Whatever you do, do not let this guy get a basket,” Butler said he told himself.
He didn’t, rising up to block DeRozan’s shot, then swallowing the loose ball before being fouled by Kyle Lowry.
Augustin, who was waived by Toronto in December before signing with the Bulls as a free agent, hit two 3-pointers early in the third as Chicago took a 76-66 lead at 9:34.