Butler, who has been starting in place of the injured Marco Belinelli, was coming off two outstanding games: 20 points in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday and 17 points in the win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
He had only four points Saturday. But far more troubling for him was the two points he felt he should have gotten but left at the free throw line.
With 15.9 seconds left, the Bulls had a one-point lead and Butler was at the line for two shots. Everyone connected with the Bulls felt good. Butler entered the game making 84 percent of his free throws.
But he missed both, and afterward, he was suffering.
“I’m not going to say I was nervous, because I was really confident,” Butler said. “I’m supposed to be a good free throw shooter, [but I] missed two. I don’t care what anybody says; that’s the reason we lost that game. I don’t care what my teammates say; I know better.”
The Dallas Mavericks promptly came down the court, and Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer to give them a 100-98 victory. A case could be made that, at best, Butler’s two free throws would have meant a tie score with the game going to overtime.
Butler wasn’t hearing it.
“If I would have made those two, we would have been up three, and then we just make them go to the basket,” he said. “This one’s on me without a doubt, and that’s that.”
It was a maddening day overall for the Bulls.
They were sensational from 3-point range. Led by Nate Robinson, who was 7-for-7 from distance, the Bulls made 57 percent of their 3-pointers.
But they were only 10-of-18 (56 percent) from the line.
The Bulls left Dallas knowing that if they were as efficient at making easy shots as they were making the hard ones, it would have been a far less frustrating day.