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Mavericks smalls and the Bulls bigs dictate game

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

A lot happened in Tuesday night's loss in double-overtime to the Mavs. With such a wild finish, and each team alternating scoring runs throughout the contest,  it's tough to do a chronological recap. So instead some generic points.

Mavs small guards

It wasn't just Monta Ellis's 38 points (in a very Monta way: 35 shots, 1 assist) who did the damage, as the Mavericks backup guards took their turns torching the Bulls. Aaron Brooks actually played pretty well offensively (8 points on 84% TS%, 4 assists) but lost his personal small-guy battle with JJ Barea, as the Wolves cast-off had 13 points in only 13 minutes of play. Devin Harris was even better, taking over the starting PG role down the stretch and in extra time, hitting his first 7 shots (including a career-high 6 three pointers) to finish with 20.

Brooks struggled, but so did Rose, Hinrich (that late foul was 'dumb', sure, but also evidence of him slowing down) and even Jimmy Butler. The Bulls looked to go to Butler early on post-ups to take advantage of the size mismatch, but the Mavs would aggressively double-team and while the pass was made it usually took up enough time to where the Bulls were not getting good shots from it. On the other end, while Butler had his moments guarding everyone from Ellis to Nowitzki, he was just in it tough with so many small and quick guards, and got beat several times, especially late.

The bigs and the pick and roll

Again, the Mavericks have the best offense in basketball, so this was always going to be tough. But having Joakim Noah in foul trouble for much of the first half was a big part in their early deficit.  Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki would routinely set high screens that the Bulls guards would struggle to get through, and oftentimes the Bulls bigs wouldn't close out or you'd see a bad switch (this happened a lot later in the game).

This was a game that the Bulls really missed Taj Gibson. Nikola Mirotic looked really good exploiting mismatches on offense (honestly, the Mavs need a backup PF real bad, and it was fun to see Richard Jefferson get demolished by Niko)  but his defense is still an issue. While he avoided his usual silly fouls and is showing improvement, the pairing of him and a tired Gasol in the 2nd quarter was not working defensively at all: whether it was containing penetration or keeping Chandler off the offensive glass. Things went a lot better in the 2nd half when Mirotic could be paired with Noah.

Derrick Rose watch

The first half was probably Rose's worst we've seen, not counting the games where he was disengaged obviously hurting. And while he hit that miracle three-floater to send the game into double-OT, chucking 11 long-ball attempts in 36 minutes of action is a bad indicator for his aggressiveness. I don't think he was actively avoiding the lane like we've seen in some of those hurt games, but while a couple of those threes were due to him getting the ball late in the clock there were others where he either settled or had one of his bizarre 'heat check' attempts that he tries after making  a single trey. Rose did have a nice drive to end the 2nd OT but the floater just didn't go down, and down the stretch did show very nice floor generalship with assists to Gasol on the pick/pop as well as inside feeds to Noah. Rose did have 7 turnovers that were mostly his own failed forays in the lane, but picked up 10 assists too.

All in all I'd prefer these games from Rose where he simply isn't having a good game to the ones where he's physically laboring.

Other notes:

  • Mike Dunleavy played nearly 49 minutes, the most of his career. And while it looked like rough going early he played Chandler Parsons to a near-draw. A couple more threes (he was only 2-7) would've obviously made a big difference.
  • What the Bulls bigs did do well was get their own misses, a recent trend that's looked a lot better than earlier in the season. They finished the game with a 30% offensive rebound percentage, a number that was even higher in the first 17 minutes of the game when it was the only thing keeping them close.

  • Even in a 'not great' Jimmy Butler game he did a lot of great things. Those 2 threes from Dunleavy were both set up by extra pinpoint passes by Butler, and he had 7 assists overall. And though he shot 9-21, Butler got to the line again enough to stay respectable (though he was an uncharacteristically poor 5-9, including that late miss), and you can see every game the points he gets simply by running the floor. You'd call them 'gimme' baskets except you'd figure more in the league could do the same, and the fact that Butler can do it while playing the heavy workload (and style) he does is remarkable.
  • Joakim Noah took a nut-punch early and rolled his ankle late, and you'd assume went past his minutes restriction getting 36 in this double-OT game. Noah played both OTs after spraining that ankle, and as we've seen in the past it's possible that adrenaline was enough to get him through last night but it won't be a pleasant day-after.