Jimmy Butler's health and the Bulls' play this week coincided for different reasons.
Butler scored 28 points in his return from the flu, and Dwyane Wade had 17 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter in the Chicago Bulls' 107-99 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
The Bulls desperately needed Butler back after losing their previous three games while he struggled with the flu. He didn't play in two games and was limited Monday night against Oklahoma City.
When asked how the last few days went, Butler didn't sugarcoat anything.
"Hell. That's what it's been like," Butler said. "My body was all types messed up, but they let me get better. My guys were taking care of me at home with fluids. Yeah, it wasn't a pretty sight."
After the Pelicans cut a 15-point second-half deficit to one point early in the fourth, Wade scored six straight points to push the advantage to 85-80. Wade made it 89-82 with a 3-pointer, and spun off a defender to convert a three-point play for a 102-91 lead with 2:27 left.
Taj Gibson added 15 points and 16 rebounds to help the Bulls snap a three-game losing streak.
The Bulls outrebounded the Pelicans 63-42.
"It's pretty obvious the rebounding was the different in the game," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "Our defense was solid. Even with the rebounding struggles we had, they still shot 42 percent. You can't give up 21 offensive rebounds and expect to win a basketball game. You just can't do it."
Anthony Davis had 36 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans. The Pelicans won two straight on the road.
Butler didn't show any fatigue early on by scoring 19 points in the first half as the Bulls led 55-45 at the half.
"We are obviously so much better with him on the floor," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "You can only talk about a select few in this league that has that type of impact on the game that Jimmy does. Jimmy does everything for us out there."
Davis, who missed New Orleans' victory at Brooklyn on Thursday night because of a sore left hip, had 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks in the half.
"Offensive rebounding killed us," Davis said. "It's tough. Our defense is good. They shot 42 percent but when you give up 21 offensive rebounds it's tough. Then D Wade made some tough shots. Just got to find a way to rebound the ball better."
The Bulls extended the lead early in second half. Butler threw down a dunk, then on a break, Wade set up Butler for a layup that made it 63-48.
Former Bull E'Twaun Moore kept the Pelicans in the game in the second half. His 3-pointer cut the lead to 66-60, and kept them within six at the end of the third quarter with another 3. He was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and scored 16 points.
CHICAGO AREA BASKETBALL
Wade, Davis and Moore all played their high school basketball in the Chicago area. Wade has taken notice with the number of star basketball players in the league that are from the Chicago area. "It just goes to show that there are a lot of good players that do come through Chicago," said Wade.
Pelicans: Moore made his first four shots against his former team for 10 points in the first half. He was 2 for 2 from 3-point range.
Bulls: Denzel Valentine also played after missing Thursday's loss to the Knicks with the flu. ... In his third game back after being benched 5 1/2 games, Rondo had six points and five assists. ... Former Cubs catcher David Ross sat courtside, and received a loud ovation as he was introduced to the crowd. His World Series Game 7 home run was played on the video board to the delight of the Cubs fans.
Pelicans: At Indiana on Monday in the final game of a five-game trip.
Bulls: At Memphis on Sunday. Wade is skipping the trip to rest.