I think there may have been an enthusiasm gap for the teams in last night's game. Some of it may have been schedule-related, but it's also because the Bulls in the Thibs era are usually pretty immune from effort deficiency throughout the season.
Here's a telling excerpt from Mavs Moneyball's recap:
that was about the worst Mavericks game I've ever seen. If there were a time of possession clock, it would have fallen over because of the imbalance. The casual ambivalence with which the Bulls dispatched the Mavericks had entirely to do with the fact that they could take as many shots as they wanted, and that no Mav could stop any Bull doing anything without sending them to the line.
And here's Taj Gibson:
we've got a lot of guys that take a lot of pride in wearing the Bulls logo across their jersey so getting this win tonight, it was real special.
As Nick Friedell notes after that Taj quote, calling a November game 'special' is kinda weird, but that's also kinda Bulls.
It was pretty telling that the Bulls committed 0 fouls in that first quarter, and only 4 in the first half. Pretty nice for a pretty relentless defensive team, but also speaks to the Mavs not exactly forcing the issue.
Jay went into the heroics of the bench in his recap so I won't touch on that here, but some other things from the game:
Another destruction on the boards
The Bulls dominated the glass Wednesday night, with a 34% to 25% edge in Offensive Rebound rate. The Mavs are now bottom-5 in both offensive and defensive rebounding this season. Dallas's frontcourt actually started out the game well (the beginning of the game was their only good stretch) being able to exploit both the Kaman vs. Boozer and Marion vs. Noah matchups on offense. I'm not sure why Marion was subbed out 6 minutes in the game but while Elton Brand can still play a bit it was certainly a more traditional setup for the Bulls to exploit. Then the fact that Troy Murphy played 17 minutes was a sorry sign for their roster as any. He was waived today.
Stellar game from Luol Deng
The Mavs couldn't do anything with Luol, especially in the first quarter where he scored 12 of his 22 overall points. Rookie Jae Crowder was a bit overwhelmed to start. Then in the second quarter Dahntay Jones received two fouls on the same possession trying to chase Luol, and Vince Carter took over duties as if to say "don't worry, I won't even stay close to this guy, let alone foul him"
Deng looked to have done something to his ankle in the 3rd quarter, but as usual with him it always looks worse at first than it turned out, and he stayed in the game.
No ballhandlers on Dallas
Darren Collison had already been benched in the game prior, but having him completely unavailable in the game really hurt the Mavs. Dominique Jones looked better than I expected at times (granted, he was against Kirk Hinrich) but is not nearly starter-caliber, and Rodrique Boubois has fallen off a cliff this season. Things are so bad for Dallas at the point that they signed Derek Fisher after the game, which I really did think was a joke when I first read it.