The Bulls' Saturday night meeting in Dallas felt like a schedule loss from the start after a draining win over the Thunder on Christmas. Instead, the Bulls turned in one of their better offensive efforts of the year and hung with the Mavericks all night. The game came down to the final five minutes, where a confounding lack of execution cost the Bulls a winnable game.
Dallas essentially wrapped up the 118-111 victory when the Bulls were whistled for a five second call on an inbounds pass down three with 11 seconds left. Here's the play:
Neil Funk and Stacey King were quick to blame Rose for this, but the play design is atrocious and both McDermott and Gasol look lost. I don't think Doug running into Pau was part of the design.
All things being equal, there were enough positives in this loss that I'm not super bummed out about it. A few things:
- Derrick looked really good. He finished with 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting and added four assists and five rebounds. He did well to get into the middle of the defense, had his floater on lock (aside for a late one he came up way short on) and was aggressive driving the ball in the second half. Rose has now finished with more points than shots in his last two games, which shouldn't be a major accomplishment, but he's only done that eight times in 28 games this season.
- More of this, please:
- Nikola Mirotic played like the best possible version of himself. 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds, two steals, three blocks. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range and 7-of-11 from the line. This was his second best scoring effort of the season. His last five games he combined for 24 points. So yeah, good to see Niko play up to his abilities again. I'm not giving up hope!
- Joakim Noah: miss you, bruh. The Bulls defense, particularly in the front court, was [trash emoji]. This was the third most points the Bulls gave up this year, counting the 147 (lmao) they gave up in four overtimes against Detroit earlier this month.
- I worry about Jimmy wearing down a bit. He led the league in minutes per game last year and he's second this year. With that being said, he's still been pretty effective and the Bulls absolutely need him out there whenever possible. He finished with 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting, eight assists, three steals and five turnovers.
- My god, J.J. Barea. 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting from three-point range. The Bulls didn't know if they were switching or going over the screens Dallas was setting for him the entire night. I'm mostly blaming this on Pau whether it's fair or not.
- Pau did Pau things both good and bad. 18 points, nine rebounds and threee assists. Pretty cool to see him going toe-to-toe with Dirk (16 points, six rebounds). Two legends, two of the best international players ever, two first ballot Hall of Famers.