There is something to be said when a team destined for the draft lottery looks more like a cohesive unit than a team with possession of a final playoff spot. The 14-27 Dallas Mavericks did not give up like the mediocre 21-22 Bulls did. They looked like a team that believed in something, despite what their record says. The Bulls looked like the opposite: a team without hope and chemistry. Chicago let Dallas in the game when they had so many opportunities to put them away. The Bulls started off well, knocking down 4 out of 4 three-point field goals in the first quarter. However, they could only score 19 points in the second quarter while allowing Dallas to score 30.
Despite the Mavs hot second quarter, the game remained neck-and-neck throughout the rest of the game. That was until Wesley Matthews made a go ahead three-pointer with 12 seconds left following a Jimmy Butler two pointer, which initially gave the Bulls a two-point lead.
For the Mavs, Harrison Barnes finished the game with 20 points, Dirk had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Seth Curry had 18 points, and Deron Williams had 11 points and 9 rebounds. Overall, the Mavs looked like an experienced team of winners playing like a cohesive unit. Players for Dallas produced well on both ends of the floor. They clearly deserved the win.
The Bulls continued to struggle, but had a bright spot in Robin Lopez. He finished the game with 21 points while shooting 10 out of 15 from the field. This was also in the absence of Taj Gibson who is nursing a sore left ankle. If he stays hot, then that will really help a team that have a few struggling big men. Jimmy Butler, as usual, came up big. He finished with 24 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds. He put his heart on the line at the end of the game in an attempt to bring the Bulls a victory. Unfortunately, his efforts were not good enough.
If the Bulls want to win on Friday in Atlanta, they need to find some balance. Firstly, their bench has to get better and stay consistent. Doug McDermott only had seven points after having 31 against the Grizzlies on Sunday. Niko Mirotic, Rajon Rondo, and Bobby Portis did not look much better. All of them must play at a higher level to take the weight off of Butler and the other starters. Second, Hoiberg must play Denzel Valentine. The kid can play and he can play well, as you saw in Washington last week. If Hoiberg gives him more playing time, then he will have the opportunity to grow and flourish into a solid rookie player that can help carry a poor bench. Finally, the Bulls must play with hope in their minds. They don’t have it right now. Period.
P.S. Happy 35th Birthday Dwayne Wade.
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