(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Chicago and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' loss to the NBA-best Bulls to fall for a third straight time on the road, playing short-handed as Jason Kidd and Jason Terry rested.
Recap: Mavericks 83 at Bulls 93
CHICAGO — With the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls in different positions heading into Saturday night, the two teams approached their nationally-televised showdown from different angles.
Trying to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and up 1 1/2 games on the Miami Heat, the Bulls brought back reigning MVP Derrick Rose from a foot injury that had kept him out of the team’s previous three games. Meanwhile, the Mavericks chose to rest two of their main contributors after winning back-to-back home games before their final two road tests, sitting 39-year-old point guard Jason Kidd and not playing sixth man Jason Terry, although he was in uniform after asking coach Rick Carlisle for the night off.
Still, the Mavs looked to halt the Bulls on the United Center floor while trying to avoid a third straight road loss, hoping to maintain their one-game edge over Denver for the sixth spot in the West playoff picture. But without two of their veteran leaders, the short-handed Mavericks (36-29) wouldn’t have enough firepower to match the Bulls (48-16) for four quarters, falling to a 93-83 loss after a valiant comeback.
“You know, we played the best team in the NBA and we took them down to the ropes. We wasn’t full strength, so it was some positives to take out of it,” new addition Delonte West said after the loss.
With no Kidd and no Terry at his disposal, Carlisle went to the starting backcourt of West and Rodrigue Beaubois for the first time this season, joining the front line of Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and center Brendan Haywood. But with Rose back and reenergizing the Bulls’ lineup, the Mavs would find themselves down big early.
And after hitting just 4-of-19 in the first period and producing a new franchise-low for points in the opening quarter, the Mavs trailed 21-8 following the first 12 minutes of play.
“Just a tough team to get shots against, a tough team to put the ball in the basket against,” Carlisle said of the Bulls after the sluggish start. “You know, the slow start didn’t deter our enthusiasm. We keep coming, we kept defending, we kept rebounding.”
With Nowitzki draining a three from the top of the key, the Mavs climbed within five early in the second stanza. But with the Mavs on a 16-3 run to climb to within two, the team would receive a scare when Beaubois went down hard before heading to the locker room with 7:32 remaining in the half clinching his left hand.
Then Beaubois returned with a dislocated left ring finger, swishing in a baby hook reverse before feeding Marion for a two-handed empathic finish. And after a disastrous first, the Mavs trailed just 44-38 at the halftime break.
“I thought it was great to see [Beaubois] get a dislocated finger popped out and then get it taped up and he was ready to go again,” Carlisle said. “That was big for us, and last night he didn’t have a great outing. Tonight, he bounced back against one of the tougher, more physical teams in the league. And I thought, after a slow start, just did a great job after that. A lot of good stuff. Really pleased with him.”
“Every injury is different. … I was lucky to be able to play tonight. I don’t know if I’m tough or nothing, but sometimes you feel like you can play, sometimes it’s tougher. Tonight, I felt like I could play. That’s why I stayed in the game,” Beaubois said after battling the injury to his off-shooting hand.
Led by Nowitzki’s 12 first-half points on 5-of-10 shooting, the Mavs stayed in the game despite 29 combined points from the Chicago trio of Rose, Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer. The Mavs also hung close while getting outshot through two quarters, 42.9 percent to 34.2 percent, matching the Bulls with 16 points in the paint.
An aggressive West came out of the locker room looking for his own shot in the third period before two free throws by Nowitzki trimmed the Dallas deficit to just one, 48-47. But Hamilton would immediately respond with five straight points, before he and Nowitzki exchanged pleasantries with a double-foul call and a tech on the Bulls’ sharpshooter after a blow to Nowitzki’s head.
West then powered the Mavericks to their first lead of the game with a crossover and jumper to go up 56-55 after a 7-0 spurt. The advantage would be short-lived, however, as the Bulls countered with 11 straight points to end the third up 66-56 after Luol Deng’s three.
“They finished the third quarter extremely well. I thought we were right there and then the last two minutes of the third just fell out a little bit,” Nowitzki admitted. “They hit two or three threes, Deng hit one at the buzzer and then next thing you know it was a 10-point game. We were fighting an uphill battle after that.”
One night after leading the Mavs with 19 points in a 104-94 win against Golden State, veteran swingman Vince Carter scored on back-to-back-to-back trips down the floor to start the fourth after missing his first six shots previously.
“Just trying to do what I can do to help us win,” Carter modestly said one night after scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter.
But threes by C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver answered Carter’s fourth-quarter outburst to keep the two teams separated on the scoreboard. Still, after Brandan Wright’s tip-in on Beaubois’ driving attempt, the Mavs trailed by just a score of 75-72 with 5:53 left to finish the comeback attempt.
Beaubois then did his best to further close the gap with Nowitzki on the bench, before Rose connection on a floater to extend the Chicago lead to 82-76 with 3:42 left.
Korver and Beaubois then exchanged threes as the two teams continued to duke it out, leading to Deng’s corner triple to put the Bulls up 90-79 before Carlisle’s timeout with 1:55 showing on the clock. Carlisle then conceded defeat by pulling his main contributors the rest of the way.
“They moved the ball well on us and put us in positions where we were in the right positions but they just hit some tough shots,” Carter explained.
Playing 33 minutes, Nowitzki finished the night 6-of-15 from the field while scoring 17 points and pulling down seven boards.
Beaubois added 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting, six rebounds and five assists in the first unit while West added 13 points. Carter was the only other Mav in double figures with 15 points off the bench.
“We got to see Roddy get back on track. Showed some toughness coming back from an injury and hit some big shots for us,” West said with high praise for his third-year teammate.
“I’m proud of how he responded,” Nowitzki added on Beaubois’ night. “He played well, made shots and that’s what we need him to do. We need him to be aggressive off the dribble, get in the lane and look for his shot. He was great tonight.”
Deng led five Bulls in double figures with a game-high 22 points while Rose returned to score 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go with eight assists.
The Bulls also finished the game outshooting the Mavs, 45.2 percent to 39.2 percent, in addition to a 46-43 rebounding edge, 15-6 separation in fast-break points and 32-26 margin in points in the paint.
The Mavericks will now take Sunday off before practicing for three days. The team concludes the regular season on Thursday night in Atlanta against the Hawks. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.
“We’ll probably get some good work in,” Nowitzki said of the next four days. “We’ll take a day off tomorrow and then Monday get a little work in. Tuesday and Wednesday we’ve got practices and we’ll see where the standings are, if we need the game on Thursday or not. We’ll look at it later on in the week.”
Dates and times for the first two home playoff games have not been announced but will be posted on mavs.com by April 27th.