It appears that Tom Thibodeau got the memo, at least for one night, as the rotation expanded back to 10 in an easy 101-78 Bulls win over a lifeless Mavericks squad that never threatened in the second half.
The Mavs actually got off to a rather good start, getting a bunch of easy layups against the Bulls' starters. But the Bulls started to turn things around when Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson entered the game, and from that point on, it was pretty much all Chicago.
We saw Thibs go to an all-bench lineup in the second quarter, something we haven't seen in quite a few games. And the bench rewarded Thibs with some excellent minutes, pushing the lead out to 19 on multiple occasions before settling on a 58-42 halftime advantage. And on this night, there was no second-half collapse to worry about.
Nate Robinson was good Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli actually showed some confidence in his jumper. Jimmy Butler was his usual energetic self, and he would wind up with a career-high 13 points (9-10 free throws!) Even Nazr Mohammed looked somewhat competent!
We heard some stuff from the broadcast about how the bench "took things personal" after the disaster against Milwaukee, but I'm really not sure that has anything to do with how these guys played tonight. They simply got an opportunity and played better against an opponent that seemed willing to lay down on the second night of a back-to-back. We'll see how things play out going forward.
Both Luol Deng and Joakim Noah put forth good efforts, with Deng's 22 points in "only" 35 minutes leading the way. Noah had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes, and he also added five assists and three blocks.
All in all, a nice bounce-back win after the debacle on Monday night. I'm not sure how much we can take from it, because the Mavs were truly brutal (our guy O.J. Mayo stunk it up, leading to some expected snark from Sam Smith). But I can't complain about a 23-point win where the bench not only played a lot, but played very well.
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