SAN ANTONIO — The Chicago Bulls played a team facing similar circumstances as of late, with the San Antonio Spurs reeling from a string of injuries on Wednesday.
Regardless of the situation, the Bulls got a must needed win.
Guard Jimmy Butler scored 19 points, while forward Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 12 rebounds as Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating San Antonio 96-86 on Wednesday night.
“It was huge,” Butler said of the Bulls win. “It’s big to come in here and get a win on the road. We want to win as many games as possible, but it’s a great way to start off the road trip.”
All starters scored in double figures for the Bulls (23-22), who were playing the first game of a six-game road trip. Guard D.J. Augustin and forward Taj Gibson both had 15 points and forward Mike Dunleavy scored 10.
The Bulls, who have had to deal with a rash of injuries, saw the return of forward Joakim Noah and guard Kirk Hinrich. Noah had missed the last game with an illness and Hinrich had been out four games with a hamstring injury. Noah had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Hinrich scored 11 points.
“Thought Jimmy (Butler) was terrific with his defense and then turned that defense into offense,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We also had great production from Carlos (Boozer) and Taj (Gibson). Joakim (Noah) was a monster. D.J. (Augustin) and Kirk (Hinrich) gave us great production at the point tonight. A lot of guys played well.”
Guard Tony Parker led San Antonio (33-13) with 20 points as the Spurs’ losing streak reached three games.
Forward Tim Duncan added 17 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Patty Mills scored 12 points and guard Marco Belinelli had 11.
San Antonio needed more scoring but was short on bodies. The Spurs learned earlier Wednesday that guard Manu Ginobili will be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a strained left hamstring. He joins guard Danny Green (fractured left finger), center Tiago Splitter (sprained right shoulder) and forward Kawhi Leonard (fracture right finger) on the bench.
The depleted Spurs rolled out a starting lineup that included forward Othyus Jeffers, who was signed to a 10-day contract on Jan. 24, and guard Nando De Colo.
“We’re not going to make excuses,” Parker said on the Spurs injuries. “Everybody gets injuries and we just have to figure it out. Obviously, four guys is a lot, but we have to fight through it. It happens to every team during the season. We’ll find solutions. We have two days.”
Chicago pressured San Antonio early, finishing the first quarter with a 10-2 run and a 21-15 lead. The Spurs then blasted off with their own 18-5 run to start the second period and built an eight-point lead, their largest of the game.
Chicago ended the quarter with 12 straight points and went into the locker room up 40-36, holding San Antonio to its fewest points in the first half this season. Boozer had 10 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bulls.
The Spurs went up on Chicago again when Mills connected on a 3-pointer with 5:54 left in the third. That made it 51-49, but it was the last time San Antonio would lead.
The Bulls continued to force the short-handed Spurs into turnovers, getting 16 points on 19 turnovers. And they pounded the ball inside, outscoring San Antonio 52-26 in the paint.
“At various points throughout the game, we’re right where we want to be,” Duncan said. “Then we go through lulls where we defensively and offensively just can’t get it done. So it’s frustrating, but we’re working through it. We have who we have, so we’re going to play with them.”
NOTES: G Manu Ginobili is the fourth Spurs player to be sidelined this month. Ginobili suffered a strained left hamstring Tuesday in the third quarter of a loss to the Houston Rockets. He is expected be miss three-to-four weeks. … The Chicago Bulls have been an up-and-down team on both sides of the ball. They are second in the league in defense, allowing 92.9 points per game and are second from the bottom offensively at 92.8 ppg. … Spurs G Marco Belinelli confirmed that he will be participating in the 3-Point Shootout at the NBA All-Star Weekend in February. Belinelli is third in the league in 3-point shooting, averaging 46.9 percent. … Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau served as an assistant coach with San Antonio from 1992-94.
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