Tom Thibodeau spent Monday afternoon at his father's funeral in Connecticut, but he made it to Tennessee in time to coach the Bulls to a 95-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Before the game, Thibodeau explained his decision to coach.
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Toronto Raptors at the United Center, 7 p.m. Tuesday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: ESPN 1000-AM
Update: Forget tanking, Toronto has won seven of its last 10 games after trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Included in that stretch are road wins at Oklahoma City, Dallas and a 99-77 thumping of the Bulls at the UC on Dec. 14. DeMar DeRozan is the top scorer at 21.1 points, followed by PG Kyle Lowry (15.8 ppg), PF Amir Johnson (11.5) and C Jonas Valanciunas (10.3). The Raptors are averaging 107 points in December.
Next: Boston Celtics at the United Center, 7 p.m. Thursday
-- Mike McGraw
His father, Thomas Sr., 83, died on Christmas Day in New Britain, Conn. Thibodeau was able to visit with his family after the Bulls' victory in Brooklyn instead of returning to Chicago with the team.
"I think it's something my father would have wanted," Thibodeau told reporters. "And our family, once I saw that they were good, I felt good about (the decision to coach Monday)."
There was no mention of Thibodeau losing his father when the Bulls lost to Dallas on Saturday at the United Center.
Jimmy Butler could barely walk after that game and the Bulls were lit up from 3-point land by the Mavericks, who hit 13 of 26. The Bulls solved both of those issues Monday night. Butler scored a season-high 26 points, while Memphis didn't record a single 3-point field goal.
Oddly enough, it was the second straight game the Grizzlies went 0-for-5 from 3-point range against the Bulls, matching the effort in a Jan. 19 game last season.
Butler has been battling a turf-toe injury on his right foot and aggravated it during the Dallas game. But he said the toe felt better Sunday morning and never wavered about playing against the Grizzlies.
Butler couldn't get much lift on his shot against the Mavs, but he knocked down a couple of 3-pointers and finished a fastbreak alley-oop dunk Monday. He also knocked down 12 of 14 free throws.
Carlos Boozer added 21 points, while guard D.J. Augustin contributed 10 points and 9 assists.
The Bulls (12-17), who have won three of four, trailed for most of the first half. They caught a break, though, when Mike Dunleavy was fouled near midcourt by Tayshaun Prince just before the half expired. Dunleavy knocked down all 3 free throws to put the Bulls ahead 46-44 at intermission.
To start the third quarter, Butler scored 12 points in a 20-4 run as the Bulls' lead reached 66-48 with 3:18 left in the third. Memphis turned things around quickly and closed within 72-71 on 2 free throws by ex-Bulls forward James Johnson with nine minutes remaining.
Augustin answered with a 3-point basket. A few minutes later Augustin knocked down another 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, putting the Bulls ahead 81-76 with 5:52 remaining. A 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich gave the Bulls an 88-78 cushion with 3:34 left.
The Grizzlies (13-17) reached the Western Conference finals last season but have struggled this year while center Marc Gasol is out with a knee injury. He might be back in a couple of weeks. Guard Mike Conley led Memphis with 26 points.
Luol Deng missed another game with a sore left Achilles. Thibodeau said Deng is getting close, so there might be a chance he plays Tuesday when the Bulls host Toronto.