Bulls lose close one to Mavs, 99-98

It was close to a great birthday for Dwyane Wade, but not enough. Wade on his 35th birthday barely missed a baseline jumper for the victory as time expired. The Dallas Mavericks thus defeated the Bulls 99-98.

The Bulls, who fell to 21-22, got 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds from Jimmy Butler and 21 points from Robin Lopez. Wade added 17 points. The Mavs fr 20 points from Harrison Barnes and 18 points from Seth Curry.

It was a fierce game long matchup between former Marquette teammates Butler and Wes Matthews, the latter with the game winning three with 11.7 seconds left after what looked briefly like yet another Butler game winner to rally from a 13-point deficit. The Mavs, 14-27, swept the season series from the Bulls.

The Bulls were looking to get past .500 again. Wade was back in the lineup after the rest game Sunday in Memphis. But Taj Gibson was out with what the team says was ankle soreness. It wasn’t considered severe and coach Fred Hoiberg said it was more precautionary with two off days ahead. The Bulls also got back Nikola Mirotic from illness. The Bulls got off to a fast start with Carter-Williams hitting the first of his two first quarter three pointers in the 7-0 start. His second sent the Mavericks into a timeout with the Bulls leading 17-10 with 6:35 in the first. The Mavs then ran off eight straight to take the lead with a pair of Bulls turnovers. The Bulls answered with a McDermott three and went on to lead 28-24 after one quarter with Lopez finishing the first quarter with 10 points in his matchup with Dirk Nowitzki, playing center for the Mavs often recently. The Mavs then climbed back into a 33-31 lead with 9:35 left in the first half with the Bulls settling for quick jump shots. The Mavs spurted ahead 46-37 with 5:45 left on a Curry three and jumper. The Bulls then came out of a timeout going to Butler, who went to his right wing spot for a jumper. A Mirotic three got the Bulls within 46-43 with three minutes left. The Bulls jumpers continued to go awry as Dallas took a 54-47 halftime lead without a double figure scorer. Eight Mavs had at least four points at half with Lopez scoring 14 for the Bulls.

The Mavs took the initiative after halftime, swinging the ball unselfishly into a three for Wes Matthews and Curry adding another for a 64-51 Dallas lead with 8:38 left in the third quarter. Butler then became offensive, trying to get the Bulls back with a driving three-point play and tough left wing jumper as the Bulls got within 71-63 with 2:51 left in the third. The Bulls for a technical foul free throw with the Matthews/Butler Marquette matchup getting physical and then Lopez getting free for a jumpers and three-point play late with the Mavs pressuring and trapping Butler. Lopez had 21 after three quarters and the Bulls went into the fourth quarter trailing 76-74. The Mavs stretched their lead out to 85-80 three minutes into the fourth quarter, prompting Hoiberg to bring Butler back into the game. That led to a sequence with a hard foul on Butler and two free throws and Cristiano Felicio with another fourth quarter contribution with a pair of scores on Rajon Rondo lobs, the so called Three Alphas back on the court together as the Bulls took a 92-89 lead with 3:48 left in the game. Dallas came back to take a 95-94 lead with two minutes left on a Barnes three and Deron Williams drive. Doug McDermott with a minute left then tied the game with a runner after a Dirk Nowitzki free throw. Butler hit a jumper with 22.8 seconds left, but then Matthews made a three with 11.7 seconds left for a 99-98 Mavs lead.