|ESPN.com: ESPNChicago||[Print without images]|
Jimmy Butler helped limit Kobe Bryant to 16 points in another loss for the reeling Los Angeles Lakers, but the Chicago Bulls swingman said Tuesday he's no "Kobe Stopper," as his teammates called him after the game.
"For one, that is not my nickname, and for two, I feel like everywhere he went I was there but also one of my teammates was there, two of my teammates were there," Butler said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "So if I was beat, they were always there to help me. It never was really just me guarding him. It was always four other guys, and that's what makes this team so great, because we always have each other's back on the court and off the court."
With Luol Deng out for a third straight game because of a hamstring injury, the job of slowing down Bryant fell on Butler, and he proved up to the challenge on Monday. Playing a team-high 43 minutes, Butler helped limit Bryant to 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting in the Bulls' 95-83 victory over the Lakers on Monday.
Bryant, who averages 29.2 points on the season, has averaged 21.3 points the past three games -- all losses -- while shooting 31.6 percent. The loss to the Bulls was the Lakers' ninth in their past 11 games.
With his mother -- a big Bryant fan -- in attendance, Butler's NBA reality hit him as he faced one of the greatest scorers in the history of the league.
"Growing up I was like, I want to play like Kobe, I want to be in Kobe's position, and now you're on the opposing team and you've got to guard Kobe," Butler said. "It's a blessing, that's exactly what it was."
After he played sparingly last season as a rookie out of Marquette, Butler's role was expected to increase this year with the loss of Ronnie Brewer in free agency. He's averaging 18.7 minutes a game on the season, but his workload has increased dramatically with Deng out.
Butler has averaged 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 38.7 minutes a game during his three-game stint in place of Deng, who leads the NBA, averaging 39.8 minutes a game.
"I feel great. It's crazy to see what Lu goes through night in and night out, but I'm glad to help the team win games in any way that I can," Butler said. "Right now I feel like my work off the bench is really helping."
Butler, who was effective against the Heat's Dwyane Wade earlier this season, said he is not intimidated when it comes to guarding the NBA's best.
"I feel like I'm going to go out and guard everybody like I can to the best of my abilities," Butler said. "It's crazy, that's what my teammates do. When you play great, they'll let you know, and they will always be happy for you. I think that's the biggest part of my game. They're giving me confidence, and with, confidence a lot of things can happen."