The Bulls beat the Mavericks two weeks ago with both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sidelined. Doncic and Porzingis played this time around on Sunday, but Dallas was without a host of rotation players, and it showed in a big way as the Bulls’ bench powered a rather easy 117-101 victory.
Garrett Temple had 21 points off the pine to lead a Bulls reserve unit that poured in 61 points on 27-of-41 shooting. Thaddeus Young stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists, two turnovers and two steals, while Otto Porter came alive late with 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-6 shooting. Daniel Gafford helped change the game with his energy in the first quarter, and Ryan Arcidiacono even made some key plays to steady the ship in his return to the rotation.
Simply put, the entire bench made things happen against the shorthanded Mavericks. They helped flip the game in the first quarter after going down 16-7 early (there was a 21-4 run at one point), then ensured there wouldn’t be another late-game collapse with bucket after bucket. Check out the box score for the bench (notice Denzel Valentine did not play after his gaffe vs. OKC):
Meanwhile, Dallas only had 22 bench points, with James Johnson (five turnovers), Trey Burke (game-worst minus 23) and Boban Marjanovic (got stuffed several times) really struggling.
The Bulls’ incredible bench performance helped the team shoot over 50% from the field despite Zach LaVine and Coby White combining to go 1-of-13. White was bad all game, but LaVine at least made up for his poor shooting by going 8-of-8 from the charity stripe while racking up 10 of the the team’s 32 assists and three steals. The Bulls notched 14 steals for the game, including a career-high five by Wendell Carter Jr.
Even though the Bulls’ starters struggled together as a group, Lauri Markkanen enjoyed a standout performance with 29 points, 10 rebounds and three assists to get his first double-double of the season. He shot 10-of-19 from the field and was aggressive going to the basket after missing badly on some early 3-point attempts, shooting 8-of-12 in the paint and 7-of-8 on free throws. Chicago shot 33 free throws as a team, with 24 coming in the first half as they built a big lead.
The Bulls led by as many as 19 points in the first half and 15 at the break thanks to a 40-point second quarter, but it would have been an even bigger blowout in the second quarter if Doncic didn’t go totally ham. With his teammates stinking up the joint, Doncic took matters into his own hands, keeping the Mavericks within striking difference with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists on 11-of-19 shooting and 6-of-9 on 3-pointers in the opening half alone.
Dallas did make a run in the third quarter to make it a nine-point game toward the end of the frame, but an Arcidiacono 3-pointer stemmed the tide and the margin was quickly pushed back out to 17 as Doncic ran out of gas. For as dominant as his final stat line of 36/16/15 looks, he had just six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the second half.
Porzingis finished with 20 points, but he missed all seven of his 3-pointers and was forcing up some real junk, especially early in the game as the Bulls ran out to their sizable advantage. The Mavericks got very little from the rest of their roster, as non-Doncic Mavs shot 2-of-20 from 3-land. Chicago’s defense certainly deserves some credit for giving up a season-low 101 points, but this was a mostly brutal performance by the home team.
The Bulls are now 5-8 on the season and will get a chance right away to make it two wins in a row when the new-look Rockets come to town on Monday. This will be the first game in Chicago since beating Dallas on Jan. 3. Victor Oladipo is set to make his Rockets debut, but John Wall will miss the game.