Recap: Bulls drop short-handed Mavs to third straight L; Fisher signing to come Thursday
Earl K. Sneed reports from Chicago, where the Bulls handed the short-handed Dallas Mavericks a third straight loss before coach Rick Carlisle's announcement that the team will sign veteran point guard Derek Fisher on Thursday.
Recap: Mavericks 78 at Bulls 101
Bulls drop short-handed Mavs to third straight L; Fisher signing to come Thursday
CHICAGO —Entering the United Center for a date against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks looked over to the opposing sideline and saw a reflection of themselves.
Like the Bulls without Rose (torn left ACL and MCL), the Mavericks sat a game blow .500 entering Wednesday night while playing without their go-to player and a former NBA MVP. And with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki back in Dallas still rehabbing from his arthroscopic right knee surgery on Oct. 19, the Mavs tried to bounce back from consecutive losses by taking down a mirror image of themselves in a Chicago squad looking to rebound from its own recent heartbreak.
Already stunned over their season-worst 115-89 home loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers last Saturday, the Mavs also took the court trying to rebound from Tuesday night’s 100-98 defeat in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, without their floor general, the Bulls tried to put aside their 93-92 home loss to Milwaukee on Monday night after losing a 27-point lead with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
And with both teams trying to remain afloat until their superstars return to action, even Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had to admit the similarities were apparent.
The coach then prepared to face off with the Bulls minus Nowitzki and without the services of point guard Darren Collison, after colliding with teammate Elton Brand during Tuesday night's loss. And although X-rays revealed no serious damage, Collison was ruled inactive just before the opening tip Wednesday night due to a sprain of his right middle finger.
“I came to the game thinking I was going to play. I tried to do some pregame shooting. I couldn’t dribble, I couldn’t shoot, and it’s just a frustrating time right now,” Collison would later say after missing his first game of the season.
Without the 7-foot perennial scoring threat and 25-year-old new addition to the backcourt, the Mavericks (7-9) wouldn’t have enough firepower to overmatch the Bulls on their home floor, falling to a 101-78 defeat to extend their losing streak to three. And following the second lopsided loss in a three-game span, Carlisle announced that the Mavericks will make a roster move come Thursday with the pending signing of 38-year-old veteran point guard and five-time champion Derek Fisher to a squad that currently stands at the maximum of 15.
“We need help at the point guard position, and to that end I might as well announce that we’re going to sign Derek Fisher tomorrow pending a physical,” Carlisle told reporters after the loss. "And I think he can really help our situation with experience, defensively and really all areas of the game. … Right now, the point guard position is a challenge for us and I think Derek can help us.
“And again, I want to make this clear, I don’t see this as a cure-all to all of the challenges that we have as a team,” he added, “but a guy with that kind of experience can help.”
One game after moving Collison to the bench and inserting third-year guard Dominique Jones and rookie Jae Crowder into the first unit, Carlisle continued to stick with the new starting lineup as the game got underway. And after forward Shawn Marion, center Chris Kaman and Jones got the Mavs off to a quick start, the reserves entered the game and quickly widened the Dallas lead after sharpshooter Troy Murphy’s 3 put the visiting team ahead, 19-11.
Still, the Mavs would find themselves down by one, 24-23, after the first 12 minutes of play despite 11-of-20 shooting in the quarter.
Catching fire from long range, it wouldn’t take the Bulls (8-8) long to open up a double-digit advantage early in the second stanza. Meanwhile, after committing eight of their 15 total turnovers in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s loss, the Mavs continued to show an inability to take care of the ball.
And with a boost from Nate Robinson off the Bulls’ bench to counter eight-time All-Star Vince Carter for the Mavs, Chicago went into the halftime intermission with a 58-42 advantage.
“I loved our start to the game, but they kept chipping away. They cut the deficit, they took the lead and our response wasn’t good,” Carlisle explained. “You know, no excuses. We played last night and all of that, but we’ve just gotta do a better job.”
Despite Marion’s 12 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting, the Mavericks were outshot through two quarters, 52.8 percent to 44.7 percent, as Bulls forward Luol Deng tallied up 14 points on 5-of-9 from the field. The Bulls also collected a 22-12 rebounding margin and scored 11 points off the Mavs’ nine turnovers in the first 24 minutes of action.
While Marion continued to try to will his team back into the game, matters would get worse before they got better for the Mavs as Chicago upped its advantage to 20 early in the third quarter. The disadvantage then eventually reached 21, before the Mavs looked up to a 77-58 score entering the fourth after 11-of-42 combined shooting in the second and third periods.
“You know, we’re struggling. We’re trying to figure out our identity I think,” Kaman confessed. “There’s a lot of new guys that are just trying to make their way and figure everything out. … It’s frustrating, but hopefully Fish will come in and bring us some help.”
Frustration would build for the Mavericks in the game’s final period, with a technical foul call on Murphy assessed for arguing with officiating just minutes after a double-technical call on Robinson and swingman Dahntay Jones. Carlisle then pulled his main contributors after seeing his team go down by 24 with 3:44 remaining, before the deficit peaked at 29 in the final minute of play.
Finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, Marion led four Mavericks in double figures. Meanwhile, Dominique Jones, Kaman and Carter all added 10 points apiece in a losing effort.
Scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-17 from the field, Deng led five Bulls in double figures. Chicago also finished the night outshooting the Mavs, 49.3 percent to 34.6 percent, in addition to a 44-30 rebounding margin, making up for their own 21 turnovers for 15 Dallas points.
“I think energy-wise we kind of ran out. We tried to make a push there, but we couldn’t really get anything going tonight,” Brand admitted while summing up the night.
The Mavs will now return home, hosting the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
“We’ve gotta stick together. We’ve gotta show a collective caring for one another and a collective toughness. We’re entering a really difficult stretch in terms of the schedule. Nothing is going to be easy, and we’ve gotta embrace that challenge. That’s where we’re at. I believe in this group of guys. I like them. They’re all good guys. They all bring some good things to the table for our team. We’ve just gotta keep going,” Carlisle concluded.