It was a big night for the Bulls Big Three as Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine — with a little, make that a lot, of help from their friend Bobby Portis — rallied the Bulls from a double digit fourth quarter deficit to a 108-100 victory.
Portis led the Bulls with 22 points, eight in the fourth quarter, for the exciting stretch run victory. Dunn had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Markkanen had 17 points and 12 rebounds and LaVine had 16 points and six assists. David Nwaba added 10 points and five assists. Harrison Barnes had 26 for Dallas and Dennis Smith Jr. 25.
The Bulls raised their record to 21-41. The Mavericks are 19-44.
The Bulls led by Portis had a 39-20 edge off the bench and turned around a rebounding deficit in the fourth quarter.
Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday remained inactive and Paul Zipser was still out with a foot problem. But there was a change with Jerian Grant entering in the first quarter and Cameron Payne after him, though also in the first quarter. It was another poor start for the Bulls, trailing 10-0 to start and then Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg quickly yanking Cristiano Felicio after that timeout when he messed up the play. Portis entered sooner than usual and helped the Bulls get on a run of four consecutive scores with a putback after a Nwaba steal.
Though Dallas remained ahead 19-8. It was because of the play of Smith Jr., who appeared to be working on a payback game against Dunn. When the Bulls beat Dallas in January, Dunn had his career game with 32 points and nine assists in the Bulls overtime win. Smith was going at Dunn early and had 10 points in the quarter as Dallas led 32-24. The Bulls did have a late 9-0 run to save competitiveness as Dallas shot 59 percent. Felicio was back out to start the second quarter and after a tough start had a putback on a miss, a layup on a loose ball and a pair of free throws as the Bulls got back in the game after trailing 39-26 early in the second quarter. That contribution from Felicio preceded LaVine finding his offense and Dunn finishing off the half with a full court driving score after a miss. So despite the shaky start, the Bulls trailed just 49-47 at halftime. The Bulls held Dallas to 26 percent second quarter shooting, though the Bulls still couldn’t get the three ball going, missing nine of 11 in the first half.
The Mavericks were sharper from distance and began to create some distance again to open the second half, making three consecutive three pointers and a 13-5 start for a 62-52 three minutes into the second half. Dallas was more active on the boards, saving misses with tap backs several times. The Bulls finally got offense going with a Felicio jump shot and a special Dunn driving spin move as he took some territory back in his duel with Smith. Dunn finally found Markkanen on top for a three and then Portis added one as the Bulls got back within 73-67 with 4:37 left in the third. The Mavericks continued to beat the Bulls to loose balls and second shots, moving back ahead 82-72 with 11 offensive rebounds through three quarters.
The Bulls got a pair of Denzel Valentine jumpers and one from Payne to turn into the fourth quarter trailing Dallas 85-78. Dirk Nowitzki in perhaps his final game in the United Center continued to make it look like one of his first, making a pair of threes early in the fourth quarter for a 91-80 Mavericks lead, Nowitzki’s fifth three in seven attempts. LaVine matched that with a three and a fancy driving score as the Bulls again bit back and trailed 91-85 with 9:22 left in the game. Valentine’s play got the Bulls back within 93-92 with 6:40 left as he found Markkanen for a three and put down a pullup losing former Bull Doug McDermott on a screen. The Bulls finally got their first lead of the game at 98-96 through the Power of Portis. He finished a fast break after a turnover on a Dunn pass and then scored on a pair of strong postups, preening for the crowd for a 100-96 Bulls lead with three minutes left. It was then Dunn and Markkanen in what the Bulls hope the future holds with back to back threes for a 106-98 Bulls lead with 1:18 left in the game.