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It’s one win and all that, but it was a pretty darned nice one for the Bulls in San Antonio Wednesday, 96-86 over the second ranked team in the Western Conference, the Bulls seventh win in their last eight on the road and 14th in the last 20 overall. With an 11-4 record, they are the winningest team in the Eastern Conference this month.
Sure, they’re just 23-22 and with five games to come in this Western Conference road trip that stops next in New Orleans Saturday. But there’s a growing confidence and defiance among these Bulls, shutting out distractions and doubters to the point that even coach Tom Thibodeau is allowing some forward looking optimism to leak out.
“The last 20 games or so, this team has played very hard and very well,” said Thibodeau. “I love the spirit of our team. We’ve got a great fight to us. I see a lot of possibilities for this team, a good fighting spirit. Playing hard, playing together, playing for each other. That goes a long way in this league.”
It went long enough for a rare Bulls win in San Antonio with seven Bulls in double figures led by Jimmy Butler with 19 points, three steals, two blocks and perhaps a dozen deflections and floor burns. Butler played probably his best all around game of the season, not only disrupting the Spurs offense with plays that led to fast breaks but a scoring stretch of eight points in two third quarter minutes that began to space out the game for the Bulls. That Butler spurt put the Bulls ahead 68-61 after three. And strong offensive play from Taj Gibson to open the fourth quarter with three baskets led the Bulls to a 76-63 lead with 10 minutes left. The Spurs only got the deficit under double digits for about a minute the rest of the way…