Butler sends strong warning to Boston's Smart
A brief staredown between Jimmy Butler and Boston's Marcus Smart seemed to energize both the Chicago Bulls and fans at the United Center.
It happened with 8:44 left in the second quarter. Smart pulled down a defensive rebound in traffic and started to bring the ball upcourt against heavy pressure from Butler. Bulls guard Isaiah Canaan sneaked in from the other side to get a steal and lay-in.
As Smart took the ball out of bounds, he faked throwing it in Butler's face, which started the altercation. Both players were given technical fouls, and Butler was in no mood to joke about it after the game.
"As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he's a great actor, acting tough. It's what he does," Butler said on the podium. "But I don't think he's about that. I'm the wrong guy to get in my face. He needs to take it somewhere else, because I'm not the one for that."
Butler was asked if this was a new issues or if things with Smart had been simmering.
"Yeah, that's the first time. Last time, too," Butler said. "We're not going to sit here and get in each other's faces like that. Like I said, he's not about that life. So calm down."
Rondo fined for leg stretch:
The NBA slammed the hammer of discipline Sunday, fining injured Bulls guard Rajon Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Boston's Jae Crowder during Friday's Game 3.
After hitting a 3-point shot, Crowder took a detour past the Bulls' bench and Rondo extended his leg, but he did after Crowder had passed, so there was no contact or even much threat of a trip. That's what makes the fine seem odd.
On Friday, Rondo was asked about the play and said he was just stretching the knee, because he had an ACL tear several years ago and sometimes it tightens up on the bench.
"The league handled it. We're moving on," coach Fred Hoiberg said before Game 4. "Rajon, I've said it all along this year, he's been as good a teammate, as good a person to coach as I've ever been around at any level. Rajon is a guy that's always going to go out, he's going to compete, he's going to give guys advice. He's just been an absolute pleasure to be around all year."
That's a nice endorsement, considering the Bulls will have to decide whether to bring back Rondo next season for $13.4 million or cut him loose for $3 million.
Grant starts, then sits:
Jerian Grant started for a second straight game at point guard, replacing the injured Rajon Rondo. But after playing less than five minutes, Grant checked out and never returned.
Before the contest, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg explained why he chose not to alter the starting lineup.
"We went back and had a long film session (Saturday), good session on the floor, another film opportunity. And we're going to give it another chance," Hoiberg said. "Game 1, he went in there and played with no fear, hit a huge 3 for us in the fourth quarter. We have to get off to a good start and contain the ball. It starts with him."
Former Bulls guard Derrick Rose sat courtside and got a nice ovation when he was shown on the videoboard. Ben Gordon was at both games this weekend. … The road team has won the first four games of the Bulls-Celtics series. It's the first time that has happened in the NBA playoffs since Dallas-Houston in the 2005 first round.