Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmy Butler is quickly proving he may be the go-to guy for Chicago in crunch time.
That's nice for the Bulls to know if Derrick Rose has a dismal first half like he did Monday night.
Butler scored 14 of his playoff career-high 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulls to a 91-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
The 25-year-old Butler's previous playoff career-high of 25 points was set in Saturday's Game 1 win over the Bucks.
"A lot of my scoring goes to (my teammates) for drawing so much attention," Butler said.
Rose scored all 15 of his points after halftime and added nine assists and seven rebounds. Pau Gasol had 11 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, and Joakim Noah ripped down a game-high 19 rebounds for the Bulls, who have won eight of the last nine against their Central Division rival.
"So far so good," Gasol said. "We just played two games and won both of them. Rebounding is a key factor, especially this time of year. We have to keep working on it."
Khris Middleton, playing in his second career postseason game, led Milwaukee with 22 points. Michael Carter-Williams was the only other Buck in double figures with 12 points.
"We're going to fight to get this series back to even and protect our home court," Middleton said of the Bucks' mindset going forward.
Game 3 is Thursday in Milwaukee.
After a lackluster opening half, Rose fired in a 3-pointer less than two minutes into the third for his first points of the night that pushed the Bulls ahead 46-42. Rose, who scored 23 points in his return to the playoffs after nearly three years on Saturday, netted 12 in the frame to help Chicago to a 71-68 lead after three quarters.
Milwaukee, which made 4-of-17 shots from beyond the arc, began the fourth on a 6-0 run to gain a three-point edge, then Butler supplied 10 points during Chicago's subsequent 13-0 surge for a 84-74 lead.
The Bucks cut their deficit to five with four minutes left in the game, then Butler followed a technical free throw from Rose with a 3-pointer that made it 89-80.
Zaza Pachulia picked up his second technical foul in a 1:12 span and was consequently ejected after he got tangled up with Nikola Mirotic going for a loose ball.
"This is the playoffs and it's going to be physical," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "Nothing more. Nothing less. Both teams are playing to win."
Milwaukee was limited to just one basket over the final four minutes of the game as Chicago maintained the homecourt advantage.
The Bulls took a 39-38 lead into the locker room at halftime despite receiving no points from their starting point guard.
It was an offensive struggle for both teams in the first half, especially the initial quarter. Milwaukee made 25 percent of its shots over the opening 12 minutes, but the Bucks held Chicago to an even worse shooting rate (5-of-21) and led 16-11 entering the second.
The Bulls' offense ramped up, however, with Mirotic netting eight points off the bench and fueling a 10-of-17 showing from the floor for the hosts in the second. Rose, who went 0-for-7 shooting with six assists and five rebounds in the opening half, found Mirotic on the block for a layup in the closing seconds that gave Chicago its one-point lead at the break.
Milwaukee committed a total of four turnovers and scored 15 points off 15 Bulls miscues ... The first quarter was Chicago's lowest-scoring quarter in its playoff history ... On this date in 1986, Bulls legend Michael Jordan poured in 63 points, an NBA playoff record, in a 135-131 double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics ... Four technical fouls were issued after the two teams met at halfcourt when Aaron Brooks was whistled for a blocking foul early in the second quarter. Brooks stood at midcourt as Milwaukee forward John Henson barreled over him which caused a brief fracas between the teams. Henson and O.J. Mayo, as well as Butler and Noah, were assessed technical fouls ... Mirotic left the game with a left quad strain late in the fourth ... Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich missed the contest with a nagging left knee injury.