Bulls run out of gas in 83-77 loss to Mavericks

The Bulls looked like a team playing their fourth game in five nights as a second half filled with missed jumpers, turnovers and sloppy play doomed them in a 83-77 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, and Derrick Rose with 18 points. The Mavericks were led by the combo of Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams, who scored 21 and 18, respectively. Williams was 4/5 from beyond the three point line and scored 10 points in the 4th quarter to help the Mavs put the Bulls away.

A day after scoring a career-high 53 points in an overtime win in Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler played like he was completely out of gas, shooting just 2-11 (0-4 from downtown), though he did have 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Bulls role players struggled mightily, as Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, and Tony Snell combined for just 5 points on 1/14 shooting.

Joakim Noah left the game in the 2nd quarter after dislocating his left shoulder while trying to box out JaVale McGee, the same shoulder that caused him to miss 9 games earlier this season. He was in obvious pain leaving the court and did not return. Kirk Hinrich also sat the second half with a left quad contusion after a collision with Zaza Pachulia.

The Bulls made a lineup change to start, putting Mirotic back on the bench and starting Snell at the small forward, and it seemed to pay off as the team started the game off quickly with a 13-3 run, clamping down defensively as they held Dallas to a run of over 5 minutes without scoring. The scoring was led by, perhaps surprisingly, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, who each scored 7 points, including a nice spin from Gibson on Dirk Nowitzki. Jimmy Butler, who scored a career-high 53 last night in Philadelphia, played the entire first quarter but went scoreless, putting up just two shots while playmaking with three assists. Still, the Mavericks were able to draw closer and make a game of it with threes from Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.

The second quarter started rocky for the Bulls, as the Mavericks were pushing the pace and getting baskets to take their first lead of the game. The team suffered a major loss at 9:41 of the quarter as Joakim Noah separated his left shoulder – the same shoulder that caused him to miss nine games this season – trying to box out JaVale McGee. Noah left the game in obvious pain and did not return.

The Bulls seemed to get energy from Noah’s injury and put together a nice scoring run, led by an efficient Pau Gasol and a seemingly re-energized Derrick Rose to open up a 46-36 halftime lead – all with last night’s hero Butler going scoreless into halftime. 40 of the team’s 46 first-half points came at the foul line, and the 36 points for Dallas was their lowest-scoring half of the season.

The Mavericks jumped out on the Bulls to start the second half, ripping off a quick 15-2 run to take the lead before a Butler steal and layup stopped the bleeding with his first points of the game. The Bulls stayed even with the Mavs after that and led 61-59 going into the final period.

The fourth quarter continued the ugly pace with the teams exchanging missed jumpers and turnovers to begin. With half the quarter played, the teams had combined for only 13 points. With 5 minutes left in the game, the Bulls were shooting only 1-of-16 from beyond the arc. Deron Williams hit two big threes to give the Mavs a 4 point lead with three minutes remaining. Dirk Nowitzki then seemingly put the Bulls away at 79-72 with a deep three with Gibson right in his face with 2:15 left.

The Bulls used the free throw line to get back in the game as Pau Gasol hit three straight to bring the Bulls within striking distance at 79-75. The teams exchanged baskets including an emphatic dunk from Gasol but it was too little too late. Butler missed three jump shots in the final minute, including two three pointers both left short, that left the Bulls with their fourth loss in five games.

Sam Smith is on assignment.