CHICAGO — Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the depleted Brooklyn Nets 112-73 in the NBA regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot Wednesday.
Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under Coach Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls earned the eighth seed and will play top-seeded Boston beginning Sunday.
On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.
On Saturday, the Nets defeated the Bulls in Brooklyn 107-106 behind Lopez’s 13 points and Lin’s 12 points.
The decision was controversial, especially with Miami, which needed the Bulls to lose in order to have a chance at the playoffs.
“I’m going to be honest as a competitor, I understand it, I understand the point of view that some of you have, some of the press has and maybe other teams, I do understand it,” Brooklyn Coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game.
“But again, we have to look at it from the Brooklyn Nets franchise and what is best for us and that’s how we’re looking into it in a vacuum. That’s my responsibility as coach.”
Archie Goodwin scored 20 points for the Nets and KJ McDaniels finished with 15.
With Chicago leading 14-11, Zipser sparked the Bulls with eight straight points as they coasted the rest of the way. The Bulls led by as many as 39 and never trailed. Zipser was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.