TORONTO (AP) — For one half, Jimmy Butler was better than Michael Jordan.
That’s all it was, Butler said. One half. Still, it was an amazing run.
Butler broke the Hall of Famer’s team record for points in a half, scoring 40 of his 42 after the break to lead the Chicago Bulls over the Toronto Raptors 115-113 on Sunday.
Jordan had 39, also in the second half, in a game against Milwaukee in 1989. Butler shot 14 of 19 in the final two quarters after a 1-for-4 start in the Bulls’ fourth straight win.
“Don’t compare me to him,” Butler said. “I don’t want to be compared to him because then people are going to think I got to do what he did. I’m trying, but we’re nowhere near the same player.”
One of Jordan’s teammates was pretty impressed, though.
“What a performance by JimmyButler. You don’t see individual efforts like this too often,” Scottie Pippen said in a tweet. Butler’s performance came after he got stitches in his mouth. He was accidentally elbowed by DeMarre Carroll in the second quarter after making a basket. He needed one stitch to close the wound and ready him for the second half.
“I was mad but I just came out and was just aggressive,” he said.
He scored 21 points in the third quarter, the most the Raptors have given up to an opponent in a single quarter this season, shooting 7 of 9 from the floor and making all seven of his free throw attempts.
In the fourth, Butler put the Bulls in front with a 3-pointer from the corner with 30.9 seconds to go to give Chicago its first lead since early in the second. A pair of free throws by Butler closed out the victory shortly afterward.
His coach was in awe of Butler’s outing.
“I’ll say this: It’s the best performance I’ve seen coaching,” said Fred Hoiberg.
The Bulls coach was also full of praise for the way his team responded in the second half, commenting that the four-game winning streak that his club is now on closed out “a very important week for us.”
Butler’s teammates were equally complimentary.
“It’s not just that he scored a lot of points, he did it in a very efficient way and he did it in a way that was critical for us to win the ballgame,” said Pau Gasol, who registered his 17th double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
While Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he tried everything to slow Butler down, he was also upset about being in front for the majority of the game and failing to close out the victory. The Raptors haven’t beaten the Bulls since Dec. 31st, 2013.