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Chicago Bulls claim final playoff spot with 112-73 victory over Brooklyn Nets

By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange
Chicago Bulls claim final playoff spot with 112-73 victory over Brooklyn Nets
Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) attempts a difficult shot. Butler had a team-high 25 points against the Nets to help guide the Bulls to the win. File photo by David Banks/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls are headed back to the postseason.

Jimmy Butler scored a team-high 25 points and Chicago clinched a berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 112-73 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. Rookie forward Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench.

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Chicago (41-41) earned the No. 8 seed and will meet the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Guard Archie Goodwin scored 20 points to lead the Nets, who benched a half-dozen players in their final game. Brooklyn (20-62) finished with the worst record in the NBA and the fourth-most losses in franchise history.

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Chicago shot 43.2 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range. The Bulls finished the regular season with a 25-16 record at home, compared with a 16-25 record on the road.

Brooklyn shot 32.6 percent from the field and made only 3 of 33 attempts from beyond the arc in a game that got out of hand early. The Nets were outrebounded 62-48.

Butler scored 14 points in the first half to lead the Bulls to a 50-32 advantage at the break. Brooklyn trailed by as many as 24 in the second quarter but briefly narrowed the gap behind several aggressive drives to the rim by Goodwin and Caris LeVert.

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Chicago led 27-13 at the end of the first quarter. The score was even at 9 before the Bulls went on a 16-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Zipser.

The Bulls closed the regular season with seven wins in their last nine games. Second-year coach Fred Hoiberg earned his first playoff appearance since leaving Iowa State to replace Tom Thibodeau.

NOTES: Six players sat out for Brooklyn, including C Brook Lopez (rest), G Jeremy Lin (rest), F Trevor Booker (rest), F/C Quincy Ankle (ankle), G Joe Harris (shoulder) and G Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring). Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson defended the team's decision to rest starters on the eve of a long offseason. "It's a decision we took as a franchise and organization," Atkinson said. "We're looking out for what's best for the Nets. We want to go into this offseason healthy." ... Bulls G Rajon Rondo returned to the starting lineup after missing three games because of a sprained right wrist. Rondo scored 10 points. ... Brooklyn matched a season low with 13 points in the first quarter. ... At 41-41, Chicago secured its ninth consecutive season without a losing record.

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