So when the Dallas Mavericks come up short on the defensive end of the floor – as was the case the three games prior to Friday’s contest against the Miami Heat – Bullock knew precisely how to solve the problem.
“I think it’s just about effort, being locked in,” Bullock said. “The coaches have given us the game plan. It’s about us going out and executing it.
“They’ve overpreparing us, so it’s just all about us just going out as players and just trying to listen to what they say and do it.”
The Mavs did exactly what the coaches told them to prior to on Friday, and they wound up drilling the Heat, 115-90, to raise their record to 25-22. It was a test of wills for the Mavs, and Bullock was right in the middle of the test as he helped hold Miami forward jimmy Butler to just 12 points on 3-of-7 shots.
“I’m just saying that (the coaches are) giving us all the answers to the test,” Bullock said. “That goes into film, that goes into us being basketball players knowing that we’re some of the older guys in the league, so us knowing tendencies to players.
“We get scouting reports, we watch film, we have guard meetings, we’ve got everything. We’re getting all the answers to the test, so it’s just all about going out and playing collectively together on the defensive end.”
What perplexes Bullock is that prior to the game against the Heat, the Mavs gave up 136 and 140 points on the road to Portland in consecutive games, then came home and gave up 130 points to the Atlanta Hawks. Counting the 131 points the Mavs allowed at Detroit on Dec. 1, and the 144 they permitted at Chicago on Dec. 10, the Mavs have now allowed at least 130 points in five games this season.
The last time the Mavs gave up 130 or more points in one season was during the 2020-21 season when it occurred six times – 138 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 25, 133 to Houston on Jan. 23, 147 to Golden State on Feb. 4, 143 during a win over New Orleans on Feb. 12, 133 to Memphis on May 11 and 136 to Minnesota on May 16.
Only twice during the regular season last year did the Mavs allow any team to score at least 130 points on them. That happened on Jan. 25 during a 130-92 loss at the Golden State Warriors, and on April 1 during a 135-103 loss at the Washington Wizards.
“We hung our hat on defense last year,” Bullock said. “This year down the stretch these last few games we’ve had some slippage.
“We’ve gone back into the film room, watch some things that we can correct as a team and as players individually. It’s just all about just going out and just executing it now.”
As far as his own offense, Bullock struggled during the first two-plus months of the season. But over the last four games he’s converted 14-of-23 shots from three-point range.
Part of Bullock’s recent success came after he had a conversation with coach Jason Kidd.
“I just needed him to be himself,” Kidd said. “Sometimes when you watch someone shoot, you can see something that they might not have picked up. I just thought he was rushing, and he just need to take his time.
“I wouldn’t say it’s that simple, but I think sometimes you want to make them all because you’re wide open and you feel like you’re letting your team down. And that’s how much Reggie cares about winning and about his team. He wants to do his part to help, and so just the conversation, that’s all I can really share.”
Bullock – he scored 15 points Friday and was 5-of-6 from three-point land — didn’t mind sharing his thoughts on the slump he was in.
“Pain don’t last forever,” Bullock said. “That was a little pain stretch that I was going through, so like I said it’s good to be able to see some go through now.
“(I’m) just believing in my work. I work out with (assistant coach Sean) Sweeney. I work out with the coaches all the time. I know I’m a great shooter. It’s just all about a confidence thing and a mind thing with me.”
Whatever it was, Kidd is glad it’s over.
“I think the confidence that we as a coaching staff — and then also as his teammates — believe that he’s going to make the next one,” Kidd said. “And I think that’s never taking away from the other side of the ball, and that’s playing defense, because that’s where he knows he has to participate on the defensive side if we have any chance of winning.”
Bullock knows shooting slumps comes and goes. He just hopes he never has another one.
“Last year I wasn’t shooting the ball well at the start of the year and I’m finally being able to see some shots go in. So, I just have to continue to keep building on the confidence and be ready to shoot the ball when it comes to me.”
Building on that confidence has enabled Bullock to re-locate his shooting stroke.
“You’ve got to spend time in the gym no matter if you’re hot or you’re cold,” Kidd said. “Reggie is a pro. Every shooter is going to go through part of the season where things just don’t fall for you, but you have to stay the course.
“We believe in Reggie and I think that’s where it starts. His coaches and his teammates believe that he’s going to make the next shot. You can see he’s turned the corner in that aspect of being able to shoot the ball, and he’s shooting it at a high rate right now.”
BRIEFLY: In marveling at the greatness of Luka Doncic, forward Maxi Kleber didn’t mind pointing out that the point guard’s scoring total in a three-game stretch earlier this season more than surpassed Kleber’s entire scoring total for this season. Counting the 50 points he scored against Houston on Dec. 23, the 32 he scored against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 25 and the 60 he poured in against the New York Knicks on Dec. 27, Doncic went three straight games scoring a total of 142 points. In 22 games this season, Kleber has scored a total of 137 points. “I remember when I watched the Houston game at home, he had like a really good game,” Kleber said. “But all of a sudden in the fourth quarter he turned it up, had a couple of floaters, some threes, and all of a sudden he has 50. I think I said within three games or so he probably scored more points than me the entire season. So, I’m like wow, this is just incredible! Even though all the teams just focus on him — they double-team him, they try to take everything away — he somehow finds a way to score and involve his teammates. So obviously, it’s really great to watch him and be able to see what he can do on the court.”. .Former Mavs center Tyson Chandler had his Dominguez (Compton, CA) High School jersey retired on Friday night. Chandler was a pivotal factor in the Mavs winning the 2011 NBA title. . . At times during games, point guard Luka Doncic can be seen smiling and playfully laughing at both a good play that he did, and sometimes at something he didn’t want to do. Forward Maxi Kleber said that’s just the kid in Doncic coming to the surface. “He takes (the game) really serious,” Kleber said. “He really wants to win. But in his game, because everybody throws everything at him defensively, he has to be creative. So that sometimes brings the kid out in him. Even in practice when we play certain plays, he just tries new things to find solutions, so I guess it’s a mixture of both of them. But when it comes to winning and all this, he’s very serious about that.”