Bulls beat Hawks, 106-104

CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler saw confidence and swagger, a team embracing the moment. No one welcomed it more with open arms than he did.

Butler scored 33 points and hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 106-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

“I see guys doing what they’re supposed to be doing — playing hard, shooting the ball when they’re open, not trying to do too much,” Butler said. “That’s what we need.”

Butler scored the Bulls’ final nine points. His free throws gave them a two-point lead and capped a 15-4 run.

Tim Hardaway Jr. then missed a 3-pointer for Atlanta as time expired, giving the Bulls their third straight win.

Chicago also moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are tied with Miami and Indiana at 37-39 but own tiebreakers over the Heat and Pacers. Sixth-place Atlanta (39-37) — which had won two straight after dropping seven in a row — trails Milwaukee by a game.

Rajon Rondo had a season-high 25 points and added 11 rebounds. Denzel Valentine scored 13 points, hitting two 3-pointers down the stretch to help the Bulls stop a seven-game losing streak to Atlanta.

The win comes on the heels of a victory over LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We had a great win a couple of days ago, but it means nothing if we came out and laid an egg tonight,” Rondo said. “Also, these guys have beaten us seven straight times.”

Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 29 points. Hardaway scored 20, and Dwight Howard finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“They responded well and you have to give them credit,” Schroder said. “We’ve got to execute better in crunch time and just do a better job, screening, rolling to the basket and taking care of the ball.”

Kings 123, Timberwolves 117

MINNEAPOLIS — Buddy Hield tied a career high with 22 points, going 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and Sacramento got 66 points from its bench in a victory over Minnesota.

Reserve point guard Ty Lawson had 21 points and 11 assists. Langston Galloway added 17 points and Aaron Afflalo scored 16 off the bench as the Kings recovered after losing by 28 points a night earlier at New Orleans against former Sacramento star DeMarcus Cousins.

Playing its fifth game in seven nights, Sacramento shot a season-high 56.4 percent to win for the sixth time in 15 games since trading Cousins on Feb. 21.

Andrew Wiggins scored 32 points for Minnesota, which had won five of its previous six homes games. A game after scoring a career-high 33 points, Ricky Rubio had 11 points on just 1-of-10 shooting, and added 13 assists.

Clippers 115, Lakers 104

LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin scored 36 points, Chris Paul added 29 and the Clippers beat the Lakers, giving coach Doc Rivers his 800th career victory.

J.J. Redick added 19 points for the Clippers, who moved within a game of the idle Jazz for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West. The Clippers have won three in a row and seven of nine.

The series between the Staples Center co-tenants has been dominated by the Clippers of late. They’ve won 18 of 20 since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Rookie David Nwaba scored 19 points and Brandon Ingram had 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Lakers. They have lost 18 of 20 since the All-Star break. D’Angelo Russell, the team’s leading scorer at 15.7 points, had two points on 1-of-9 shooting while missing six 3-point attempts.

Nets 121, Magic 111

NEW YORK — Brook Lopez scored 30 points, Trevor Booker had a season-high 23 and Brooklyn beat Orlando.

Sean Kilpatrick added 15 points for the Nets, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Brooklyn had a season-high 72 points in the paint.

Elfrid Payton had 20 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for his fifth triple-double of the season for Orlando, which has lost four straight games. Nikola Vucevic had 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon finished with 22 points and 15 boards.

Brooklyn opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 100-89 lead and never looked back.

By Paul Wager

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