Mavericks vs. Bulls
Dirk Nowitzki scores 21 points as the Mavericks defeat the Bulls 83-77.
Final: Mavs 83, Bulls 77
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
With Chicago playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls were looking to get to the rim as much as possible and not rely as much on jump shots with their tired legs. The Bulls’ aggression paid off in the first half, as they scored 1.21 points per possession when the ball got into the paint as opposed to just 0.75 points per possession when the Mavs kept Chicago on the outside. The scoring gap between entering and not entering the paint is usually wide, but this one was especially pronounced.
The fact that the Mavs shot just 31.6 percent in the first quarter yet still trailed only 22-18 speaks volumes about the Mavs’ defensive disposition early on. Sure, Chicago shooters missed plenty of makeable shots, but so did Dallas’. What matters is how much energy you bring to the floor, and the Mavericks did a solid job in the opening frame of rotating, trying to close out shooters, and chasing rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki even chased down Derrick Rose on the fast break and contested his shot, forcing a missed layup. You can’t control the outcome of a shot, but you can control your level of effort.
Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons, and Dirk Nowitzki combined to go full-on closer mode late in this one. Williams hit a pair of 3s, Parsons a pair of layups, and Dirk hit a desperation trey to beat the shot clock to put the Mavs up 79-72 with less than three minutes remaining. Dirk would later hit a jumper to extend the lead and Williams would knock down very late free throws to put it away. Those are veteran guys who have seen a lot in this league, and Nowitzki and Williams in particular have years and years of experience as go-to guys on their respective teams. It should come as no surprise that the Mavs have the highest field goal percentage in clutch situations in the NBA this season. With those guys, Wesley Matthews, and Zaza Pachulia on the team — plus plenty of experienced reserves — Dallas has been a force late in games this season.
After falling behind by 10 points at halftime, Dallas opened the second half on a 15-2 run to take a 51-48 lead. Until then the Mavs had still been getting good shots, but they just weren’t going in. That’s going to happen to you from time to time in this league. As coaches say, what defines you as a player and as a team is not how you respond to success, but by how you respond to adversity. Dallas suffered through a half in which it shot 28.2 percent from the field yet stuck to the gameplan and kept plugging away, very quickly putting the slow start in the rearview mirror and essentially starting a new game, this time with the momentum on its side.
Jimmy Butler scored 53 points yesterday. Today, he ran into Wesley Matthews. His line: 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting. If you didn’t already know Matthews is a stud, you do now. His performance will go unsung, as Dirk and D-Will will get all the headlines, but Matthews was absolutely terrific tonight in a game Dallas desperately needed him to be awesome in.
The Mavs got off to a poor shooting start, hitting just one of their first 11 attempts from the field. However, after a timeout Dallas immediately started attacking the basket more often, eventually getting into the bonus with 3:22 left in the opening frame. As frustrating as it might be to see the Mavs take a bunch of jump shots to begin games, it’s just as refreshing to see them make an adjustment and put the ball on the floor looking for contact. It worked.
Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich both left this game injured, meaning it meant extended second-half minutes for Bobby Portis and E’Twaun Moore, two guys who don’t see regular action. It also meant Chicago had to stagger minutes at the big spots, meaning less action for Taj Gibson against Nowitzki, the matchup the Bulls attacked extensively in the first half. Dallas’ depth was on display front and center, as several bench players stepped up in a big way, especially J.J. Barea, who had another big game. The Mavs won the battle of the benches and, not surprisingly, the game as well.
The Mavs (23-18) play the San Antonio Spurs (35-6) Sunday at the AT&T Center. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. Central.