There was certainly letdown potential for the Bulls heading to Dallas to face an awful Mavericks team after the big win against the Cavaliers, but I didn’t expect a complete laugher from start to finish that resulted in a 107-82 win for Dallas.
The Mavericks entered the game 3-15, the worst record in the NBA, and they hadn’t led a game by more than 12 points this season. They promptly took a 17-point lead in the first quarter against a Bulls team that flat out didn’t show up. Yeah, the Bulls didn’t have Dwyane Wade and are still missing some key bench guys, but that’s no excuse against a bad team that was missing several key rotation players of their own, including Dirk Nowitzki.
The Bulls’ effort right from the tip was pathetic, and Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic put forth two of the most useless performances I can remember. Niko’s been in a funk for a bit now and started at the 3 so that’s not all that surprising, but words can’t describe how awful Rajon Rondo was in this game.
I don’t know where Rondo’s head was at, but it wasn’t in Dallas. Horrible turnovers, no defense, afraid to shoot...you name it. Credit for Fred Hoiberg for giving Rondo quick hooks in both the first and third quarter, but I wouldn’t have put him back in after his dreadful start to the third quarter. Rondo finished with 2/2/2 and five turnovers in just shy of 24 minutes. He was a -22, while Niko put up a goose egg and was a -24 in 13 minutes. Impressively bad.
The Bulls kind of stayed within striking distance at various times thanks to Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez, and Butler extended his streak of 20-point games to 13 (the most since MJ in 1996-97). Butler finished with 26/9/4, but a lot of his production came when the Bulls were already down big. Robin Lopez had 15/7 and extended his double-digit point streak to a career-high 11 games.
Wesley Matthews (26 points, seven triples) and Harrison Barnes (22 points) went to work against a lax Bulls defense, and even Dwight Powell poured in a career-high 17 points. The Mavericks beat the moribund Bulls to almost every loose ball, and Dallas forced 20 turnovers and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
You can make excuses for the Bulls given some of the circumstances, but I will not. This was an embarrassing performance that brought back shades of the worst of times last year, and it was not something I was expecting. I wouldn’t really panic about anything because seemingly most Eastern Conference teams are struggling right now, but this was a very troublesome performance.
On to the next one, which is home against Portland on Monday.