Jimmy Butler scored 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and helped give Chicago’s playoff hopes a needed boost in the Bulls' 102-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
The Bulls, Miami and Indiana entered the night with 38-40 records and in a three-way tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Butler had his fourth career triple-double.
Rajon Rondo sat out with a sprained right wrist and Dwyane Wade missed another game with a fractured right elbow. Wade, who scrimmaged on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured on March 15, could return as early as Saturday's game at Brooklyn. Wade, who averaged 18.6 points in his first season with his hometown team, had been ruled out for the season. But Wade was worked hard at joining the team minus any serious setbacks.
Rondo was hurt Tuesday night in a loss to New York.
With Rondo and Wade sidelined, the Bulls still cruised against the lowly Sixers. Jerian Grant scored 15 points starting for Rondo, Nikola Mirotic scored 22 and the Bulls took a 14-point lead in the first half.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the Sixers with 18 points.
The Bulls wasted a major opportunity when they lost to New York and could not afford a second straight road defeat to an Eastern Conference also-ran. The Bulls, who hold a tiebreaker over the Heat and the Pacers, improved to 7-4 since they lost Wade.
The Sixers gave up 141 points Tuesday against Brooklyn and their defence was only slightly better against the Bulls. The Bulls seemed on the brink of missing the postseason for a second straight year just a few weeks ago. Mirotic hit his fifth 3 of the game late in the fourth to make it 97-82 and the Bulls firmed up a playoff spot with two key cogs set to return. Butler earned his 10th assist on Mirotic's sixth three to clinch his fourth career triple-double.
Bulls: Chicago has won 13 of 14 against the Sixers. … The Bulls have defeated the Sixers seven straight times in Philadelphia. … Michael Carter-Williams, 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year with the 76ers, received mostly boos when he checked in off the bench.
76ers: Coach Brett Brown brought his parents to the game. Brown's father, Bob Brown, was a standout high school and college coach for years in New England. But it's mom, Bonny Brown, who might be the family's biggest hoops junkie. "My mom is addicted, my mom watches more than dad," Brown said. "The best Christmas gift I give them is League Pass." … Robert Covington (knee), Jahlil Okafor (knee) and Sergio Rodriguez (hamstring) all sat out. … The Sixers' 10-5 mark in January (which matched last season's total wins) was just a mirage and they crashed down the stretch.
Chicago plays Saturday at Brooklyn and play its two final games at home.
The Sixers finish their home slate Saturday against Milwaukee and Monday against Indiana.
All of Thursday's NBA results:
Indiana Pacers 104-89 Milwaukee Bucks
Orlando Magic 115-107 Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers 90-102 Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks 103-106 Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks 123-116 Boston Celtics
Portland Trail Blazers 105-98 Minnesota Timberwolves