NBA: Butler brilliance sparks Bulls over Hawks

Jimmy Butler scored 33 points as the Chicago Bulls maintained their push for the playoffs with a come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Butler made two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining at the United Center to give Chicago a 106-104 win.

It was the culmination of a sparkling performance from Butler, who scored his team's final nine points in a 25-point second-half display.

Butler's heroics helped Chicago wipe out a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes of a gripping contest.

The victory saw Chicago improve to 37-39, lifting them into a virtual three-way tie with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the seventh playoff spot on offer from the Eastern Conference.

"Nobody picked us to be in the playoffs, nobody picked us to win," Butler said.

"I'm just out there playing basketball. I want to win -- I think everybody knows that."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg could not hide his admiration for Butler.

"He was phenomenal," Hoiberg said. "Jimmy did everything again. He just found a way to get to the basket ... obviously, he was a huge part of that win."

Butler was backed by Rajon Rondo, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Denzel Valentine weighed in with 13 and Paul Zipser added 10.

Dennis Schroder led the scoring for Atlanta with 29 points. The Hawks nearly snatched victory at the buzzer but Tim Hardaway Jr's effort drifted wide.

"We didn't make enough plays down the stretch that we had to," Hawks coach Mike Budenzholzer said.

Hoiberg meanwhile praised his team's never-say-die attitude as they prepare to embark on a demanding four-game road trip which starts Sunday.

"It's an important step when you can fight through adversity and find a way to come back from a big deficit like that," Hoiberg said.

"It's a couple of times in a row when we've fought back. We haven't put our heads down and we continue to compete -- that's what it's all about."