Final: Bulls 127, Mavs 124
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavericks scored 35 points in the third quarter, which ties for their highest-scoring third quarter of the season. Dallas outscored Chicago 35-23 in the frame, and the +12 differential tied for the team’s second-best margin in the third quarter this season, behind only the 19-point difference in Memphis two months ago.
The Bulls have a pretty small starting lineup on the wings, essentially starting two shooting guards and zero small forwards. That left Harrison Barnes with a significant size advantage against his mark for most of the night, and Barnes aggressively attacked that early on. He scored 10 points in the first quarter, most of which came at or around the rim as he played bully ball against smaller players. He’s getting so good at using his body as a shield against guards, and that’s helped him improve as a finisher. His spin move has really come along, too, and he uses that really effectively against big men. Barnes scored 23 points on the night and has now dropped 20+ in six of his last 10 games after doing so just once in the 10 before that.
Kris Dunn was fantastic for the Bulls tonight. The second-year point guard scored 32 points, adding nine assists and four steals. He took over the game late for Chicago as the club pulled away in the final couple minutes. Dunn is in his second season, fresh off a rookie season in which he averaged just 3.8 points per game. But he’s upped it to 13.3 so far, and it’s going to climb some more after tonight. Not every point guard will make a massive leap in his second season the way Dunn has, but players at that position almost always improve in several tangible areas from year one to year two. That sort of development has to get you thinking about how Dennis Smith Jr. will improve in between now and next season, when Dunn and the Bulls make their next visit to Dallas. (To add to the story, Mavs assistant God Shammgod mentored Dunn during his years at Providence, and now he works closely with Smith.) Such is the nature of development in this league. Sometimes it takes several years, but sometimes it only takes one. And one year from today, I wonder how much better Smith will have become.
The Mavs (13-27) will play the New York Knicks (18-20) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 6 p.m. Central.