The Bulls only needed one of their “Three Alphas” to dump the Hornets on Monday night.
With Rajon Rondo benched and Dwyane Wade sitting due to swelling in his knee, Jimmy Butler erupted for a season-high 52 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 118-111 home victory.
Chicago’s two-time All-Star hit 15-24 from the field, 1-4 from deep and 21-22 from the free throw line, falling just one point shy of his career high of 53 points.
Butler became the eighth different player this season to score 50 points, tying the NBA record for most different players to score 50 in the same season (1990 and 2016). He also became the third player since Friday to hit 50 points, joining Boson’s Isaiah Thomas and Houston’s James Harden.
"I was just playing basketball," Butler told reporters. "I just had a groove. Coach [Fred Hoiberg] kept drawing up the same play and [Michael Carter-Williams] kept setting a great screen. ... I just needed to do whatever it takes for the team to win."
"[The hoop] felt pretty big," Butler told CSN Chicago in a post-game interview. "Over the weekend I was in the gym. That's what I promised. My teammates kept giving me the ball, even when I didn't want the ball, [and they were] telling me to score and be aggressive. When you've got teammates like that, your confidence is through the roof.
Butler's 52 points were the most by a Bulls player at home since Michael Jordan had 53 points on March 7, 1996. The United Center crowd saluted his big night with "MVP" chants late in the game.
"[Hearing those chants] feels good," Butler said. "I love this city. I think this city loves me as well. I want a championship here. We have a long way to go, but I think it's possible."
After Monday’s effort, Butler is now just the second Bulls player with multiple 50-point games, joining Jordan.
50-Point Games in Bulls Franchise History
• Michael Jordan: 30
• Jimmy Butler: 2
• Jamal Crawford: 1
• Chet Walker: 1
Chicago improved to 17-18. Charlotte fell to 19-16.