Butler Backs Up Head Game Vs. ‘Melo

CHICAGO – Brash talk for a guy picked last in the first round of his draft in 2011, a relative unknown by two names – Jimmy Butler – in a league where the big dogs need only one. Like, for instance, Carmelo.

So when Butler talked after the Chicago Bulls’ shootaround Thursday about the mind games he hoped to play with the great New York Knicks scorer Carmelo Anthony, it seemed like tugging on Superman’s cape or spitting into the wind.

Turns out, ‘Melo was the one who shouldn’t have messed around with Jim.

“Yeah, I think it was all right,” said Butler, the Bulls’ small forward drawing so many of the dirty defensive assignments these days. “Just challenging him, man. I’ve got that much respect for the guy.”

Butler respected the heck out of Anthony earlier in the day too, about 10 hours before Chicago’s overtime, streak-busting victory, but that didn’t stop him from sharing some of his game plan after shootaround. Stuff like crowding Anthony, making him uncomfortable physically, the usual pestering and hassling. But Butler talked as well about his ambition to get the Knicks star off his game mentally.

“There are ways you can get into him,” Butler said, “try to get into his head a little bit and just try to make everything as difficult as possible.”

OK, so how’d that work out for Butler? Anthony – on one of the most torrid scoring and shooting paces in NBA history – wound up taking 34 shots for his 36 points. He came in hitting 61.1 percent of his attempts over the previous five games (and 58.6 percent on 3-pointers), but walked off a loser for the first time since March 17, lugging a 38 percent performance overall, an 0-for-4 collar from the arc and a defunct 13-game winning streak.

“Every time we see Chicago, they try to beat us up. Especially seeing us shorthanded,” Anthony said, overlooking the Bulls’ many injuries too.

Anthony put up 10 shots in the game’s first nine minutes and had 12 by the end of the first quarter. He was getting the full attention not only of Butler but of Luol Deng in their tag-team shifts on him and as the Knicks’ early 23-6 lead fizzled down into single digits.

On one play, Anthony picked up a loose ball foul when he put a forearm into Butler’s back. Then, after a whistle in traffic in the lane, he came out yapping and picked up a technical from ref Joey Crawford.

Butler had plenty of help against the obvious focal point for any Knicks opponent. One time, as Anthony bulled back against Deng near the rim, Chicago’s Richard Hamilton snuck around him on the baseline and stripped the ball. In general, the Bulls made life miserable for him, as they did for New York in sweeping the four-game season series.

“They can have it [the sweep],” said Anthony, who still had a chance to settle things in regulation but his 21-footer at the buzzer bounced off. “They can have the regular season wins. … We’re not worried about them right now at this point.”

Nate Robinson was the drama king for Chicago, scoring 35 points (18 in the fourth quarter and overtime) and out-3-balling the 3-ball specialists. But Butler did so much of the grittier stuff, from shadowing Anthony to chasing J.R. Smith, from stealing and slamming consecutive New York turnovers in a pivotal third-quarter turnaround to hightailing downcourt defensively after Raymond Felton to thwart a Knicks break-out opportunity in the fourth.

The kid from Tomball, Texas, by way of Marquette, was the No. 30 pick in 2011, sandwiched between Cory Joseph and Bogan Bogdanovic. He mostly sat for Chicago as a rookie but with Ronnie Brewer gone, Butler’s rapid development has looked like elapsed-time cinematography.

“Every time he’s been called upon, he’s played huge,” Kirk Hinrich said. You can just see his comfort level is much higher and his confidence is much higher. He’s really grown up before our eyes.”

But had 14 rebounds against New York, his latest career high, while scoring 22 points. When the Bulls snapped Miami’s 27-game streak on March 27, Butler had 17 points, five assists and five boards while guarding Dwyane Wade. He scored 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting and logged 48 minutes against Toronto Tuesday, and Chicago now is 4-0 in his double-double games.

“I loved Jimmy’s demeanor,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. “Jimmy will keep coming, he doesn’t get discouraged. he has proved each and every day that he has gotten better and better.”

On the court. And in selected All-Star’s heads.


  1. @ nyk13-lol-yeah ok kid your swiftyness of artificial intelligence. It was hilarious back when it was 1st said & is still now. If that was said to me on or off the court, i would bust stitches laughing & be ok w/ it because i’m secure enough w/ me no matter what & no matter what statement referenced.

  2. uoykcuf says:

    Obviously some of you didn’t even watch the game and just comment based on the highlights. Yes, butler 2 steals in a row gave the bulls a spark to comeback. But the real reason they won was Nate, Nate was playing on a one bad play, one good play, one bad play, one BIG play game. Iman couldn’t stop him. And before you praised Butler’s D to a god level, you do know Melo was wide open at the last possession in the regulation and I think kirk was the only one came close to him. Leave Melo at the end when it’s tie game? Doesn’t sounds good defense to me.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Also they lost coz they played the “play by the 3, die by the 3” game. I think at one point was up to 16 and they still kept chucking 3s. Don’t get me wrong, I love Butler( + nate combination) but he still has a long way to go.

  3. ee says:

    it dont matter if the bulls stay in the fifth seed brooklyn are taking you guys out in 5 and i dont support brooklyn

  4. Jeff says:

    It is ridiculous to say that Melo had a “quiet” game when his bricks were making the rim cry LOUD all night.

  5. Luke says:

    My favorite part is how Anthony gave up on the play twice in a row on that video. Carmelo doesn’t hustle and doesn’t play defense. I loved watching Jimmy get the better of him. He was nothing but a volume shooter the whole game. For those complaining about the refs: there were as many bad calls going against the Bulls as there were against the Knicks, so get off that you whiners. Fact is, the Knicks can’t win when their 3’s aren’t falling, which is why they’ll get upset in the playoffs.

  6. andy says:

    as a knicks fan im not that worry because even though all our bigs were injure, the bulls are like the knicks kryptonite and when that win the bull is #5 seed and we dont have to deal with them in the playoff.

  7. noty'allsbusiness says:

    It’s just scary to think….what if the whole bulls team were healthy? Rose, Noah, deng everybody I’m pretty sure they will be a good contender for the heat..

  8. samboyle says:

    The Knicks dont match up well with us anyway, even without D. Rose the only team we cant beat is Miami. First, Jimmy aint overrated, that’s how you can tell who really knows about Basketball. If you watch a Bulls game you’ll see Jimmy Butler has a hi basket ball IQ, excellent defender and bounder and can guard multiple positions. His shot has got extremely better since the beginning of the season. This is what separates us from every team our rebounding with the combination of our defenders. No team has two big men in Gibson and Noah who can protect the paint and guard perimeter players, Deng, Butler, and Hinrinch are excellent perimeter defenders and all can guard multiple positions. Not including D. Rose definitely stepped up his man-to-man defense. When healthy we are the only defense in the NBA that can match-up against ay offense period

  9. @bullsfandan says:

    Jimmy gets buckets!

  10. Robbie says:

    KR450 if you do not understand efficiency, than I guess you have some learning to do. The Bulls won a regular season game, does it mean anything going forward? I doubt it, as neither team played a guy taller than 6’8″ . And Jul3z the refs were bad, they are always bad, but they were never one-sided and they always favor the stars in the league now days, you just have to deal with it. It is completely lame and cheapens the game, and ruins the meaning of a title a little bit.

  11. Kevo says:

    And when Jeff Caplan writes about the Heat, no one says anything about that? Smh at people…

    Now, what people fail to realize is how the Bulls are ending these streaks…. SHORTHANDED. Complain and point out all you want about other teams being shorthanded, but the Bulls have been without their most vital components in Rose, Noah, Belinelli, Gibson, and countless others. The Knicks are a great team and, as ‘Melo says, “they’re not worried about them right now”, so no need to get all pissy just because another streak ended. I’m a Bulls fan, but I’m not that delusional to think that regular season success = playoff success (Bulls and Spurs of last year come to mind).

    Good game overall, if not questionable at the end. I swear the Bulls are taking their fans on a roller coaster ride, haha.

  12. Josh says:

    Obviously there is a lot of people commenting on here that dont actually watch basketball enough to make intelligent comments. Jimmy Butler is the real deal. The only reason Anthony has so many points is because he takes just about every shot.

    • nyk13 says:

      and obviously you never played chicago and indiana get away with so many fouls at home its a joke

  13. WILKSY08 says:

    Jimmy Buckets for most improved player, only person I can think of that comes close is K Fed

  14. PREPUSIO says:

    At the end none of this matters because THE HEAT will win it all….

  15. Yes lets celebrate becuz Chicago just won the championship …pssssss plezz ..
    Miami or NYC will destroy y’all in playoff….. Believe it!

  16. Karlo Garcia says:

    He could b the X-Factor Jimmy Butler for the Bulls in the playoffs.

  17. Efrain says:

    Where Streak Busters hapens! The Bulls have prooved that even with key players, not only nba all-stars but also furious defenders and hardball players, they can beat the top teams in the game. So they just need to get healthy. When everybody come back, and with a bench with hundred of extra minutes and experience because of the injuries of the starters, I’m pretty shure that they will run to the the finals and get the ring. Go Bulls!!!!

  18. On The Rise says:

    Jimmy G. Buckets!

  19. KR450 says:

    not a Knicks or Bulls fan but – regardless of FG% – 36 points and 19 boards hardly sounds like a quiet game. No disrespect to Butler but this article is pretty ridiculous.

    • jimmy buckets! says:

      i agree.. but when you see that it took him 34 shots to get 36 points its not very impressive either. the point in the article is that nobody has been able to stop melo for the past month.. the man was shooting over 55% and making opposing defenses look like high schoolers. he shot under 40% last night which no matter how many points you score is very very bad.

    • D says:

      You cannot disregard FG% in these games.. for example, 36 points on 18 for 30 (60%) shooting vs. 36 points on 18 for 40 (45%) shooting; the stat shows scoring efficiency (deficiency), which is very important. 19 rebounds is huge though!

    • OldSchool says:

      It is quite a personal game but a lousy team game. Play the same way in the playoffs and they will go nowhere. Michael Jordon did it better for 7 years before he figured it out.

    • liltou76 says:

      It just took 34 shots to get it.

    • This Guy says:

      Melo did not have a quiet game, but based on his recent numbers he should have put up 42 points on just shooting two pointers. Not including his ridiculously high 3 point % recently. For him to put up the most shots he had ALL SEASON but not have a 45+ game, thats what this article means.He also had the chance to win the game, but could not. Also turned the ball over at some critical points Absolutly Melo played well, but if anyone remembers a Knicks-Bulls game last year. Melo hit a three to send the game into ot and then won it….on another three…..in Luo’s face. .
      Melo’s game = Toasty
      Not = Red Hot
      I fear his game, but if you watched the game instead of looking at the stat block, you would know what Steve means.

    • Sympathetic Possum says:

      You shouldn’t disregard FG%, that’s the point. 13/34 is pretty terrible and this article makes a very good point on how hard Jimmy made it for Carmelo to get that many points. Carmelo’s frustration in the game was obvious, that’s why he started barking at Butler. Open your eyes.

    • nyk13 says:

      Steve Aschburner needs a new profession i think terrible article

  20. AJ Mills says:

    Let’s not forget the other streak the Bulls ended: the Pistons’ 18 game losing streak.

  21. Since a themed part of this article is about head games on the court i have only one important thing to say, “honey-nut cheerios”-lmao-it works all the time, just ask him if it really works, yeah you know who to ask!

  22. Noit says:

    I’m so happy for low picks I feel the refs give them bad calls. I’m real happy to see Butler oozing confidence and wanting to take on tough guys knowing he can handle it.

    That’s why I’m a Boozer fan too, he’s a 2nd rounder and had success I want him to do good, the refs need to let Boozer use his physical strength without whistling too much. He deserves LBJ treatment it he worked through so much adversity as a low pick. I don’t know why the number 1 picks get all the sentiment they just do what comes naturally the lower picks work hard.

  23. prix says:

    Butler is just too way overated…he proved nothing yet but a few good games…

  24. Jul3z says:

    im sorry im a knicks fan and i hate to be like other fans and have a cry when we lose. But the referee in the last two minutes of the game was making the worst calls. The technical on JR? then the two quick fouls on shumpert haha i could see that look in some of the players eyes when a call happens and you cant complain to ref’s who have it in for you on a given night in fear of getting a tech. well played bulls though at the end of the day you get the win.

    • OldSchool says:

      You must have missed the contact on Deng when he missed the shot that allowed Melo to shoot for the win in regulation. Or 2 imaginary fouls on Butler.

      • ee says:

        lol foul yep just jump into someone throw the ball up and get a whistle nice call obviously u never played the game

    • NHbleedsGREEN says:

      dude melo missed like 20 field goals by himself. Stop crying about a foul call or 2.

    • @bullsfandan says:

      I am a Bulls fan but even I will admit that Joe Craword is the worst ref in the leauge. He has to go. He should have be banned from the NBA years ago. Go Bulls!

  25. Allrock says:

    Zzzzz…obviously this blogger is a huge chicago bulls fan.

  26. ELDiablO says:

    Chicago; Where NBA streak go to die