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.
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.