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CHICAGO >> Jimmy But­ler and Isa­iah Thomas should have plenty to talk about when they see each other in New Or­leans this week­end. But­ler made two free throws with 0.9 sec­onds left, send­ing the Chicago Bulls to a 104-103 vic­tory over Thomas and the Bos­ton Celtics on Thurs­day night. But­ler’s clutch foul shots capped a mem­o­rable duel with fel­low All-Star Thomas in the NBA’s fi­nal game be­fore the break. But­ler and Thomas both fin­ished with 29 points and seven as­sists. But­ler was touched on the right el­bow by Mar­cus Smart on a turn­around jumper as the horn sounded, draw­ing a foul. But­ler calmly pat­ted his el­bow and then walked to­ward the line while an in­cred­u­lous Smart danced up the court in dis­be­lief. “He got a piece of the el­bow,” But­ler said. “Peo­ple are go­ing to say ‘Aw, he didn’t foul him,’ but he did. So at the end of the day they made the right call.” Said Thomas: “That’s hor­ri­ble when it costs you a game you should have won. That’s a bad call.”

After But­ler’s free throws, Al Hor­ford air-balled a base­line jumper on the Celtics’ last shot, giv­ing Chicago con­sec­u­tive wins against East­ern Con­fer­ence pow­ers Toronto and Bos­ton.

“I’m ex­cited about these two wins over two very good teams,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Hope­fully, we can build off of these com­ing back off the break.” Bobby Por­tis had a sea­son-high 19 points for the Bulls, who went 22-for-22 at the line. Robin Lopez had 15 points and eight re­bounds, and Taj Gib­son fin­ished with 12 points and nine boards. “It’s big for us. It’s go­ing to pro­pel us to the se­cond half of the sea­son, which our team re­ally needs,” Por­tis said.

Thomas went 8-for-18 from the field in his 41st straight game with at least 20 points, break­ing the team record set by John Havlicek dur­ing the 1971-72 sea­son. He made two free throws with 1:30 left to make it 103-100, but he was blocked by But­ler on a layup at­tempt and missed a jumper down the stretch.

Bos­ton also was out­re­bounded 51-31, lead­ing to a 22-4 deficit in se­cond-chance points. “They were big­ger than us at al­most ev­ery po­si­tion, and then we didn’t do a good job run­ning down balls. So re­bound­ing was an is­sue,” coach Brad Stevens said. Kelly Olynyk had 17 points and seven boards for the Celtics, who had won four in a row and 11 of 12. Terry Rozier made three 3-point­ers and fin­ished with 11 points.

The Bulls played without guard Dwyane Wade and for­ward Paul Zipser due to in­juries. Wade has been ham­pered by a bruised right wrist and woke up Thurs­day with an ill­ness. Zipser is deal­ing with left an­kle ten­dini­tis.


Chicago’s Jimmy But­ler slammed home a bas­ket against Bos­ton.

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