Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls lose another head-scratcher to the Mavericks 99-98 at the UC

Well I wish I could say I’m surprised. Coming off back-to-back wins including an impressive W on the road in Memphis, the Bulls (21-22) did what they do best, confuse the hell out of you. While Taj Gibson was out of the lineup tonight with a minor injury, there is no excuse for losing to the Dallas Mavericks (14-27) at home. One month after blitzing the Bulls in Big D by a score of 107-82, the Mavs squeaked by the Bulls 99-98 (no Big Mac sorry) on Tuesday night. Let’s take a look at how one of the more disappointing losses of the season unfolded.

  • Let’s start with the ending. The Bulls tied the game up on a nice runner in the lane from Doug McDermott following a great cut to the basket that sprung him loose. After a big defensive stop the Bulls turned to Jimmy to once again be their closer, and once again he delivered on a long, contested jumper that put the Bulls up 98-96 and all was right with the world.
  • However, the Bulls got caught celebrating the make as they were anticipating Dallas to call timeout, only one never came. With the Bulls out of position, Nikola Mirotic got switched on to Deron Williams. D-Will proceeded to easily guide past Niko before dishing a beautiful pass over to Wesley Matthews who hit the clutch go-ahead 3.
  • Niko should have given Deron more cushion knowing that he is quicker and was only 1/5 from deep in the game. But after trying to face guard him, it forced Wade to come help leaving Matthews wide open, it’s the little things that get magnified late in games and end up turning W’s into L’s.
  • Fortunately, there was still 11 seconds left. Unfortunately, Hoiberg forgot to draw up a play, or so it seemed. Jimmy got the ball and was stuffed from going anywhere but luckily had the ball knocked out of his hands right to Wade. Unluckily, Wade missed the tough fadeaway as time expired to seal the Bulls fate.
  • Why no pick and roll? Why not let Rondo start with it and get it to Jimmy deeper in the paint? Anything would have been better than letting Jimmy try and beat Matthews 1-on-1 after Matthews had done a good job on him all night. Going pick and roll and giving Jimmy even a little space or ability to play make disappeared with this stand still offensive set and set the Bulls up for inevitable failure.
  • Obviously I just took a lot of time there breaking down what amounts to about 2% of the actual game But it is precisely these small mistake throughout the game that makes a good team mediocre. Not knowing scouting reports, not adjusting to in-game flow, not hustling back on defense after a make. All of these things turn wins in to losses and could mean the difference between facing the Cavs or Raptors in the first round, or missing the playoffs altogether! Alright, I’m done ranting now.
  • Let’s talk about some good things the Bulls did against the Mavs. Jimmy had a Jimmy game going for 24 points, 12 assists, and nine boards just missing out on a triple-double. He also got to the line an impressive 16 times making 14 of them, something he’s gotten exponentially better at these last couple of seasons.
  • Robin Lopez had a stellar offensive night for his standards as well. RoLo scored 21 points on 10/15 shooting and did it every which way. Put backs, jumpers, post moves, crazy “and-1s”, you name it Lopez executed it tonight and gave the Bulls a nice inside presence with Gibson out for the night.
  • The Mavs had a balanced scoring attack all night with six players in double-figured getting a game high 20 from Harrison Barnes. The MVP of the night though goes to Wesley Matthews who dueled with his Marquette brethren Butler all game long. He finished with only 11 points and four rebounds but played terrific defense on Jimmy all night holding him to only 12 field goal attempts and five makes forcing him to pass up shots he usually takes. Matthews was also the man to hit the biggest shot of the game to send a dagger into Bulls fans hearts.
  • Up Next: The Bulls travel to the ATL on Friday night to take on Dwight Howard and the Hawks.

Note-A-Bulls: Wheels Come Off, Bulls fall in trap game 107-82 to Dallas Mavericks

After one of their most important wins this season with a 111-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, the Bulls traveled to Dallas to take on the 3-15 Mavericks. In what was supposed to be an easy road win for the Bulls, this game turned into the harsh reality of a “trap” game. The Bulls struggled in the 1st quarter to get their offense going and an energized Dallas team took full advantage with some unlikely help from Wesley Matthews.

  • Because of the back-to-back games, the Bulls gave Dwyane Wade the night off. Hoiberg went with Lopez, Mirotic, Rondo, Gibson and Butler to start the game. The quick turn around from last night left the offense out of sync, as Mirotic missed many of his shots early, leaving him 0-4 from the field with only 14 minutes of playing time total. The Bulls were down 23-6 in the 1st quarter with 3:17 left, and with 2 fouls already, Hoiberg sent Butler back into the game, desperate for an offensive spark.
  • The one bright spot of the 1st quarter and into the 2nd was the offensive play of Robin Lopez. Lopez has been seeing his best offensive numbers as a member of the Bulls, and registered his 11th straight game in double digits early in the contest. He finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
  • After putting up 15 points and 12 assists against Cleveland last night, Bulls Point Guard Rajon Rondo was absent in this game. He finished the night with just 2 points and a costly 5 turnovers, 2 of those off of his own leg. A night to forget for Rondo in a Bulls uniform.
  • At the Half, the Mavericks lead 57-45, but the story of the first half and throughout the rest of the game was second chance points. While the rebounding numbers were even at 43 a piece to end the game and Dallas only out-rebounded the Bulls 14-11 on the Offensive Glass, it seemed like the Mavs continued to secure offensive boards and out-hustle and out-box out the Bulls every chance they had.
  • While sloppy play and an out of sync offense was the theme in this game for the Bulls, the chance of recovery was small, as turnovers killed any chance of a comeback. The Bulls had 20 total turnovers to the Mavericks’ 10.
  • Over the past few years, the Bulls have always struggled in finding consistent scoring options. The disappearance of Nikola Mirotic tonight coupled with Wade’s night off did not leave the Bulls with many options. Jimmy Butler finished the night with 26 points, but he was truly the only scoring option, in his 13th straight game with 20 + points. The most difficult way to score for the Bulls tonight was from behind the arc, as they shot only 23.1% to the Mavs’ 41.9%. The Bulls tried to ride the 3-point game early, but to no avail. Switching their tactic to a more inside-scoring mentality helped boost Lopez’s numbers, but did not do enough to bring the Bulls back.
  • Defensively the Bulls had a very tough time switching on defense. Possession after possession the Bulls appeared late to cover their man on a pick leaving Dallas wide open to widen their lead over the Bulls.
  • The defensive lapses allowed Mavs to take advantage in both halves. The first half star was Harrison Barnes, as he scored 17 out of his total 22 points in the first half.  Wesley Matthews picked up the slack in the second half, scoring 20 of his 26 total points, finishing 7 from 11 from 3-point land.  In his last game against Charlotte, Matthews only went 4 -15 from the field giving him a surprising turnaround against the Bulls tonight going 9-15. Helping the Mavericks was the career high scoring nights for both Dwight Powell, who finished with 17 points, and rookie Dorian Finney-Smith, who finished with 11 points. Deron Williams finished with a season high of 15 assists.
  • The now 4-15 Mavericks showed scoring depth that the Bulls continue to lack. While Michael Carter-Williams and Doug McDermott remain out with injury, Hoiberg looked to the rest of his bench for new scoring options, and they could not deliver.
  • The end of the 4th quarter was the “let the kids play!” quarter. The Bulls sent out Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, RJ Hunter and Cristiano Felicio. While they added some energy to the game, their combined 14 points, left little to show for the Bulls performance against Dallas.
  • Up next: The Bulls will try to re-group as they return home to play the Portland Trailblazers on Monday night.

BULLet Points: Joakim Noah goes down in ugly loss to Mavericks

  • Friday’s night’s forgettable 83-77 loss to Dallas was overshadowed by a second serious shoulder injury to Joakim Noah. After missing just three weeks earlier this season, Noah will now need surgery on the injured shoulder and will be out for four to six months.
  • If Joakim cannot return in time for the playoffs–which seems very likely–there is a strong chance he has played his last game in a Bulls uniform. Noah will be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end, and the Bulls must decide how they will structure their frontcourt going forward. Pau Gasol will likely opt into free agency as well, leaving the younger trio of Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Bobby Portis as the bigs under contract. The Bulls will surely have some interest in bringing the franchise favorite back, but he may be looking for more money than they are comfortable spending on the oft-injured and rapidly declining center.
  • If this is the end for Jo in Chicago, I’d like to thank him for everything he brought to this team, city, league, and sport. Noah has been a model teammate for years and never failed to invigorate an often frustrated fanbase. I sincerely hope the Bulls can find a way to bring him back.
  • Shall we discuss the stinker of a game from Friday? Jimmy Butler struggled mightily to match his historic 53 point output from the night before in Philadelphia. He scored just four points against Dallas as Wesley Matthews did a fantastic job badgering the exhausted All-Star. While Butler shot 2/11, he did add six assists and five rebounds. His improved playmaking has been instrumental this season.
  • Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol returned to the starting lineup after receiving a night off. Rose looked great, scoring 18 points on 8/18 shooting. His floor game looked as smooth as it has all season as he chipped in four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The rest of the Bulls shot 33.8% from the field.
  • Gasol was solid as well, posting 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. As the only true center left for the Bulls, he’ll be seeing a lot of court time in Joakim Noah’s absence.
  • E’Twaun Moore was impactful off the bench for the second straight night, scoring eight points in 22 minutes. With Kirk Hinrich constantly hobbled and Aaron Brooks useless defensively, Moore might start seeing more time as Rose’s backup. Fred Hoiberg has also already experimented with playing the two together.
  • Dirk Nowitzki started off slowly in this one, but he delivered an MVP finish. With the Bulls hanging around to the end, Dirk drilled back-to-back daggers with defenders draped all over him. You had to appreciate it.

  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Detroit for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at 2:30.

BULLet Points: Bulls let one get away in Dallas

After a 3-game skid against the Pistons, the Knicks, and the Nets, and some locker room player/coach controversy, the Bulls tried to start a fresh winning streak by knocking off the Thunder on Christmas Day. They ran into a speed bump against the Mavericks on Saturday night, falling 118-111. The Bulls are still searching for an identity, having struggled with lethargy and lacking confidence in each other, the system, and the coach. Although these qualities won’t go away overnight – rest assured they will be back – they haven’t reared their ugly heads in these last two contests. The Bulls played with motivation, purpose, and (some) unity, despite the loss. Aside from the 18 turnovers that led to the difference in the game, they played with as much energy as we could expect in a back-to-back. Poor decision-making and communication, high turnover numbers, and excellent Mavs’ three point shooting led to the loss.

  • Derrick Rose was closer to vintage tonight than we’ve seen this year. Although his court vision and decision-making still leave something to be desired, he was attacking early and often, and he’s clearly still fast when he wants to be – his bursts tonight were second to none. He finished with 25 points on 12/20 and four assists. One of the vintage Rose highlights was a hesitation up-and-under past four Mavs defenders:

  • The Bulls did a much better job with ball movement. On most possessions, no one player held the ball too long or dribbled excessively, and more importantly, players weren’t standing around watching the action but had better off-the-ball motion that led to some rhythm jumpers or shots near the rim.
  • The Bulls gave up so many threes I stopped counting. No I didn’t, they Mavs shot 48.5% on 16/33 with JJ Barea accounting for seven (7/8). Most of these were due to poor communication on switches, often involving Pau and Taj (usually Pau left Taj out to dry). We’ve spoken at length about Pau’s frustrating defensive shortcomings at DRosesAndThorns, so I won’t go on a diatribe, but I’m left shaking my head.

  • Nikola Mirotic had a pretty solid game tonight with 23 points and 4/7 from deep, and took it to Dirk on one particularly noteworthy series with a block on one end and the and-one on the other.

  • #FreeBobbyPortis update: This was not his night – in the first quarter, he had a stretch of three turnovers in four minutes, one that was particularly boneheaded where he didn’t fully step out of bounds after a made basket and the ref called him on it – this wasn’t the first time he’d done this. He just got caught. Needless to say, he didn’t see much action after that.
  • The Bulls were plagued by a lack of energy. Aside from the normal Pau fatigue, we saw a lineup in this back-to-back that included first quarter minutes for Cameron Bairstow – the first such sighting all year. Hinrich/Butler/McDermott/Bairstow/Portis with -6 in about a minute and a half. We also saw a funky lineup of Brooks/Hinrich/McDermott/Gibson/Portis that had similarly concerning results.
  • Tony Snell received a DNP-CD once again.
  • Coming up: The Bulls hostToronto on Monday night.

Midseason Love/Hate, Part 1

We are closing in on the NBA All-Star break and so far this has been a pretty thrilling regular season, especially if you’re only watching the Western Conference. There have already been so many great moments this year. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve seen Clippers owner Steve Ballmer dance to Fergie courtside during a game. So I thought I’d put together a completely biased and objective list of the things I love and hate about each team this year with some refined commentary.

Atlanta Hawks

Love: DeMarre Carroll as “the other guy” in the Hawks starting five

The Hawks are the biggest surprise of this season and have been flat out amazing, evidenced by their 19 game win streak. 4/5 of their starters (Teague, Korver, Millsap, Horford) are receiving the bulk of the credit, albeit very well deserved. But their fifth option DeMarre Carroll is the type of glue guy every team needs; he’s scrappy as hell, plays tough defense, and can hit a few timely three pointers. Many of his teammates will be up in New York for the upcoming All-Star game, but without DeMarre the Hawks certainly wouldn’t have the best record in the East.

Hate: People rebranding the Hawks as “Spurs-East”

Yes, Mike Budenholzer used to coach for Gregg Popovich. And yes, the Hawks do play a team oriented style of basketball that echoes former Spurs teams. But that’s not a good enough reason to marginalize what the Hawks have done this season by essentially saying they’re only good because they are mimicking the Spurs. If it was that easy every team would hire Gregg Popovich assistants. A-Town down!

Boston Celtics

Love: Brad Stevens trying to win despite his revolving door of a roster

Coach Stevens is doing his best despite Danny Ainge cleaning house; he has managed to get his team to keep playing hard and is occasionally stealing some games from contending opponents. Instead of just playing young guys who can gain valuable experience, he’s decided to implant Brandon Bass in the starting lineup and is now playing Tayshaun Prince 20 plus minutes a night off the bench. These lineups suggest one of two things; either he’s extremely competitive and hates losing, or he desperately wants to go back to coaching college ball.

Hate: Danny Ainge trading Rajon Rondo to the Mavs for some magic beans

I’m not mad at Danny for taking a first round pick and Brandan Wright (who was traded for two second round picks) in exchange for Rondo. But what the hell was he waiting for? Good GM’s don’t wait until their greatest asset is at its lowest possible value and then pull the trigger. He couldn’t have possibly seen the Celtics as a playoff contender entering this season, and if he did he gave up on that idea pretty early. Also if I’m a Western Conference team and I see the Mavs got Rondo for basically nothing, I’m genuinely going to be pretty peeved at Danny Ainge for affecting the West playoff race. It’s like when a guy at the bottom of your fantasy league trades one of their best players because they are giving up on the season. Danny Ainge is that guy, and we all hate those guys.

Brooklyn Nets

Love: Nets having a white player from Duke participate in the Slam Dunk Contest

That is a phrase I never thought I would say.

Hate: Watching the sad end to Kevin Garnett

It’s a shame KG has to go out like this. He’s one of the best at his position of all-time and to play on this pitiful Nets team is kind of tainting his statuesque career. Kevin Garnett has played so long I honestly can’t even remember his golden years in Minnesota when he was dominant every time he took the floor. The end to KG has similar overtones to Hakeem Olajuwon ending his career in Toronto, and as Mays Gilliam says “that ain’t right!”

Charlotte Hornets

Love: the honeycomb print on the home floor

Honestly, it’s pretty stupid and seems like something a DII college team might do. But for some reason I like that they embraced returning as the Hornets to its fullest extent. When is Time Warner Cable Arena hosting “Baron Davis Night” or “Larry Johnson Night” this year?

Hate: Panic! We’re running out of Lance Stephenson memes

The Lance “blowing air” meme has been pretty strong, one of the greats if you ask me. But it’s kind of a played idea at this point. Lance is going down in flames as a Hornet and he’s not even starting anymore. Lance for the love of god don’t leave us hanging like this, please come up with some new material. In case you didn’t see, he is taking fan suggestions for his next on court antics. Forward all submissions to ConeyIslandKilla6969@hotmail.com.

Chicago Bulls

Love: Renaissance of Pau Gasol

Pau has been a revelation this year and has really turned the Bulls into a true title contender; if they can stay healthy. It’s rare you see a player like Pau who ages, switches teams, and then seemingly gets better. I also think he’s in some silent game of chicken with his younger brother Marc and doesn’t yet want to relinquish the title of “The Best Gasol”. Pau has given the Bulls something that has been lacking in years past, a reliable post presence who the offense can play through in the halfcourt. With Pau commanding double teams it opens up the offense even more for Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The one downside however is his defensive skill. It’s hard to overlook his lack of defense, but the offense he brings should override the fact that he is a horrific defender.

Hate: Doug McDermott’s trade value

I know Dougie McBucket’s injury has prohibited us from making a solid conclusion about what type of player he’s going to become, but as of now that draft night trade has a bad stench to it. I believe his ceiling as a player is as a good scoring threat off the bench, I’m not sure that warranted trading the 16th (Jusuf Nurkic!) and 19th (Gary Harris) overall picks for him. Due to injury this season the Bulls are forced to play guys like Tony Snell, Kirk Hinrich, and E’twaun Moore major minutes. The team could use an injection talent off the bench not named Nikola Mirotic. Trading for McDermott only gave away the potential to add another young player to the roster.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Love: LeBron as player/GM

The fact that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and actual GM David Griffin consult LeBron on all transactions is kind of ridiculous, regardless of the fact that LeBron is the best player on the planet. I feel like he’s always threatening to just opt of out his contract this year, and so David Griffin has to ship off every draft pick he has for the next decade in order to make LeBron happy. Of course trading two first rounders for Timofey Mozgov went down because LeBron doesn’t really care how the Cavs end up in five years. GM LeBron might actually be best for the Cavs anyway, at least he didn’t draft Anthony Bennett. Anything he does from here on out is an upgrade from the previous GM.

Hate: David Blatt not using Kevin Love correctly

Attention David Blatt! Kevin Love is more than a three point shooter! Stop sticking him in the corner and do some actual coaching. I hope trading future star Andrew Wiggins for a glorified three point shooter was not the initial plan when they acquired Love.

Dallas Mavericks

Love: Dirk Nowitzki is still basically unguardable

Dirk is the first of his kind, he’s the “Model-T” of European big men who can shoot from deep and who also have post skills. He has made the Mavs relevant for almost two decades, including this season, and I rarely show affection to anything German so this declaration has some weight to it. Even after all the additions of Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler, if the Mavericks make any noise in the playoffs it will undoubtedly be because of Dirk and that silky smooth jumper.

Hate: decline of the old rambunctious Mark Cuban

Mark, please yell at a ref or accost the league in some way and get fined. We want the old Cubes! Make it rain in the commissioner’s office and let Adam Silver know that those hundred dollar bills are just “fun coupons” and you won’t ever stop being you.

Denver Nuggets

Love: Jusuf Nurkic smack talk

When you’re a rookie and you’re smack talking and jawing at Kobe Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Marc Gasol without any level respect for those guys who are more accomplished than you’ll likely ever be; that takes some guts and deserves a tip of the cap. Even though it’s stupid and unwarranted, I love him for that. I’m making odds on who the first guy to throw a punch at Jusuf in response is. Highest odds are DeMarcus Cousins (revenge) 2-1, JaVale McGee (accidentally) 9-2, and if you’re looking for longer odds Ron Artest (psychopath) 5000-1.

Hate: Ty Lawson’s inability to use Uber

Really Ty? Two DUI’s? C’mon dawg you make millions of dollars a year, shell out a couple bucks for an Uber or call Danilo Gallinari to come pick you up, he’s probably available. Professional athletes receiving DUI’s has almost become a regularity; how teams are not more proactive about this is outrageous. I realize the large majority of this problem is the personal responsibility of the athlete, but teams need to babysit these guys or have harsher penalties. Unfortunately it’s probably going to take someone’s untimely death before the problem is finally addressed further. Sorry that I had to be a little morose to prove a point.

Detroit Pistons

Love: Stan Van Gundy’s balls for waiving Josh Smith

It definitely must have been a tough sell for SVG to march into the owner’s office and say “Hey, so I want to cut Josh even though we still owe him $26 million. You cool with that?” If this move didn’t work and the Pistons ended up worse, I’m not sure how Stan Van would’ve survived. This is the ultimate case of addition by subtraction. I can’t even recall a similar situation where the release of one player created such an upturn in wins. Maybe when Brad Pitt traded Carlos Pena in “Moneyball”?

Hate: Brandon Jenning’s Achilles tendon for crapping out on him

As if sports in Detroit couldn’t get worse. We’re still relatively fresh off the NFL refs screwing over the Lions. The Pistons uptick and winning ways were a silver lining to that horrific Lions loss. Jennings going down for the season is really unfortunate because the Pistons were once again becoming a great team to watch. Brandon Jennings’ game was flourishing without Josh Smith on the floor dominating the ball, and he was directly contributing to the poor man’s “twin towers” Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond wreaking havoc on opponents. At this point, it’s hard not to feel bad for the city of Detroit.

Golden State Warriors

Love: Klay Thompson in 24/7 heat check mode

The kid is straight fire. Every time he launches a three and it doesn’t go in I think my eyes are playing a trick on me. Also he scored 37 points in one freakin’ quarter. I’ve played rec league basketball for over 15 years and I’ve yet to eclipse 30 points in an entire game. Just for fun, here are a couple names of players drafted over Klay Thompson: Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette. Those guys could go 4 vs. 1 with Klay and they’d lose.

Hate: Andrew Bogut’s health

The Warriors are a really exciting team to root for, but I’m afraid without a healthy Andrew Bogut they won’t have a shot at the title. It’s entirely possible they can win without him, but it will be a hell of a lot easier with him in the on the hardwood. They need his defensive presence against dominant frontcourt teams like the Grizzlies; his defense will need to hold teams close during the few games that Steph and Klay go cold.