CHICAGO (REUTERS) - The Chicago Bulls extended their winning streak to a National Basketball Association season-high five games by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 117-106 on Tuesday at the United Center.
The Bulls had dropped three of four games right around Christmas, leading to questions being asked about everything from their leadership to their effort.
"It wasn't anything I said or what anyone else said," Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said of the turnaround. "It was what we said together as a team in the locker room that nobody knows. We got a real good team on paper, out there on the court, but if we don't play for one another, don't stick together, we're not a really good team."
Individually, Butler has been largely responsible for helping the Bulls (21-12) be a better team lately.
Coming off a 42-point performance, which included 40 points in the second half, against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Butler continued to have a hot hand against the Bucks.
He scored a game-high 32 points, including 20 points in the first half, and recorded a career-high 10 assists.
He shot 11-for-21 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
"He's balling right now," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said of Butler. "I'll keep going to him until he doesn't want the ball anymore."
The Bulls got going early as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never once trailed.
Milwaukee cut the margin to one point twice in the game, but the Bucks (14-23) just could not find enough consistency on defence.
The Bulls shot 46-for-83 from the field (55.4 per cent). The Bucks hit 46 of 102 shots (45.1 per cent).