The Bulls took aim at a 10-game winning streak in Dallas against a Mavericks team that entered on a five-game winning streak of their own. The visitors quickly bounced back from a 10-2 hole to take a 10-point lead after one and then held that 10-point lead late into the second quarter, but they were promptly pounded the rest of the way in a 113-99 defeat to snap the winning streak at nine games.
This was a pretty poor game across the board for the Bulls, outside of a few stretches. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic were particularly bad, with their shooting struggles playing a key role in the game flipping late in the second quarter and into the third. The duo combined for 33 points on 13-of-38 from the field and 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
While we’ve seen the Bulls winning some games here while not playing their best, nobody really picked up the slack with those two playing so poorly. DeMar DeRozan had a quiet game of 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting and eight assists. Coby White had a nice flurry to start the game but wound up with a modest 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. No other Bulls player scored in double figures as they shot a pedestrian 43.3% from the field and 11-of-33 from 3-point range against a Mavs team that has been playing some excellent defense of late, even without Kristaps Porzingis.
Meanwhile, Luka Doncic and the Mavs’ offense crushed a Bulls defense that continues to slip. Doncic didn’t shoot the ball well (8-of-23), but he controlled the game and notched a triple-double with 22/14/14. Dallas spammed pick-and-roll over and over and over again, taking advantage of Vucevic, poor point-of-attack defense and late rotations to get a ton of open shots. The Mavs haven’t shot the ball that well this season, but they hit exactly 50% of their attempts and went 16-of-36 from 3-point range.
Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith did the majority of the damage from long range, combining for 10 triples on 16 attempts. All five Mavs starters scored in double figures, with Josh Green also providing a huge spark off the bench with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Green played a key role in blowing the game open early in the fourth quarter after the Bulls entered the final frame trailing by just four despite playing so poorly. Dallas also hit six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help turn this game into a blowout.
While the Bulls entered this game on a nine-game winning streak, they hadn’t been playing all that great and obviously skated by in a few of the wins. The defense has been noticeably shaky (get well soon, Alex Caruso), but they were bailed out by big-time shotmaking. The shotmaking simply wasn’t there in this one, so they weren’t able to keep up with a Mavs team that really got it going.
The Bulls have a busy week ahead, with the Pistons first up on Tuesday in a rescheduled game. It’s unfortunate timing for that game given there’s a national TV showdown against the Nets on Wednesday, but Chicago just needs to take care of business and not look ahead to Brooklyn.
The Bulls are now 26-11 and lead Nets in the East by 1.5 games.