The Bulls got a positive update on Derrick Rose, and then used another big night by Jimmy Butler to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-89 on Friday.Butler had 28 points and 12 rebounds and the Bulls won for the seventh time in their last nine games. Mike Dunleavy made five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, and Joakim Noah finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. The Bulls trailed 85-84 before Kirk Hinrich drove inside for a layup with 4:29 remaining, and then Tony Snell made a smart pass to Dunleavy for an open 3 that made it 89-85. Butler added a clutch bank shot to help the Bulls improve to 10-1 in their last 11 games against Minnesota.Kevin Martin scored 18 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four of six. Ricky Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists, and Andrew Wiggins finished with 14 points.Minnesota was hurt by a whopping 48-16 deficit in points in the paint.It was the Bulls second game since the team announced Tuesday night that Rose had a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. The dynamic point guard had surgery Friday morning and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, raising the possibility he could return this season.It was an encouraging development in a difficult week for the Bulls, who were still processing another significant injury for the 2011 NBA MVP when they lost 98-86 to Charlotte on Wednesday night. Rose missed the 2012-13 season while he recovered from left knee surgery, and played in just 10 games last season before he had surgery on his right knee.
”He’s a tough-minded guy,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”There’s normal emotion when you get injured and then there’s the fight in him that I think we’ve all seen. He’s not going to back up and he’ll put everything he has into the rehab and then coming back.”
The Bulls also were without All-Star Pau Gasol for the matchup with the Timberwolves, and forward Taj Gibson left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Gasol, who is averaging 18.4 points and 12.1 rebounds, was shelved by an illness.Minnesota coach Flip Saunders decided to rest Kevin Garnett in the first part of back-to-back games for the Timberwolves. The veteran forward, who was reacquired by Minnesota in a trade with Brooklyn last week, played 19 minutes in an emotional 97-77 home victory over Washington on Wednesday night.Garnett, who turns 39 in May, had his warmups and high tops on as he cheered for his teammates from the sideline throughout the game.Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach with Boston when Garnett helped the Celtics win the NBA title in 2008, said he thinks the 7-footer will have a significant impact on the young Timberwolves.
”When you watch the way he plays offensively and defensively, it’s all about winning,” Thibodeau said. ”When you have a guy like that on your team, the young guys can’t help but improve quickly. He’ll bring a spirit to that team that’ll tie everybody together.”
NOTES—Making his second straight start in place of Rose, Aaron Brooks had six points on 2-for-15 shooting. … The Bulls swept the season series against Minnesota, also winning 106-105 on the road on Nov. 1…..The Bulls host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.