Chicago's Butler stuns Boston in National Basketball Association

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Butler hit a pair of free throws with less than a second remaining to give the Bulls a 104-103 victory over the visiting Celtics at United Center.

If you ask the officials on hand, it went to the Bulls when Jimmy Butler pulled up for a potential game-winner, defended by Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Butler ended up making both free throws to put the Bulls ahead by a point, and the Celtics were steamed after the game.

However, the baseline referee called a foul on Smart, believing he hit Butler on the arm. With only 0.9 seconds left, they settled for a long, contested Al Horford jump shot from the right corner.

Butler, who the Celtics will see tonight in Chicago before the All-Star break, has been involved in trade rumors for some time now - and the Celtics could be a frontrunner. He played respectably in 24 total minutes over the past week but with head coach Brad Stevens going for more offensively-minded lineups, Zeller's skills just don't fit.

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Some will scoff because of Smart's offensive inefficiencies, but he has emerged as one of Boston's most important players during the Celtics' run to the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Celtics' just-completed 3-1 road trip has provided a nice springboard into the next two games against the Sixers (tonight) and Bulls, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. "We get up for the challenge", Gibson said. And barring a blockbuster deal that sends Butler to the team he tormented for 40 minutes on Thursday, the Bulls will have that player as they continue their push toward.500 and a postseason berth.

Thomas, who has failed to score at least 20 in all but one game he's played in this season, scored seven straight points for his team after the Celtics blew an eight-point fourth-quarter lead.

"Horrible call", he told reporters.

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Grant's second 3-pointer of the third put the Bulls back up 67-65, and they stayed in front the remainder of the quarter. Paul George scored 17 points, and Jeff Teague had six points, six rebounds and five assists for IN (29-28).

All hoops fans know what a "ticky-tack" foul is, right? The Butler-Thomas matchup was terrific theatre down the stretch, as Thomas scored 11 fourth-quarter points on 3-of-8 shooting while Butler had a crucial block on him with 1:10 left. The C's are hopeful he will be able to return to the floor after the All-Star break.

Bradley sat out four games after initially straining his right Achilles against the Philadelphia 76ers then returned for a game against the Charlotte Hornets on January 16.

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