Those unpredictable Bulls are back. The day after beating the best team in the Eastern Conference they were dominated by the worst team in the NBA. The Bulls Saturday suffered a dispiriting 107-82 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Bulls fell behind immediately, trailed by double digits six minutes into the game and never made much of a run the rest of the game. The Bulls got within six points midway through the second quarter and by 12 early in the fourth quarter. But there never was much of a serious challenge as Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg used the bench extensively in an attempt to produce some energy.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 26 points and nine rebounds. Robin Lopez had 15 and Taj Gibson 11. Wesley Matthews had 26 for Dallas and Harrison Barnes 22. Dallas made 13 threes while the Bulls made three.
The Bulls fell to 11-8 while the Mavs raised their record to 4-15. The Bulls play Portland in the United Center Monday.
The Bulls were getting some promising injury news with Doug McDermott scheduled to practice with the Windy City Bulls and perhaps play to start this week. For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki remained out for the Mavericks, who came in with the poorest record in the NBA. Though after a home loss to the Lakers earlier in the week, the Bulls were in no position to take any team for granted coming off the powerful Friday win over the champion Cavaliers. Nikola Mirotic started for Dwyane Wade, who skipped the trip to rest. Mirotic was scoreless in 13 minutes. Rajon Rondo had two points and five of the Bulls 20 turnovers. The Mavericks rolled out to a 13-2 start as the Bulls lumbered through one of eight shooting and four turnovers, including, three straight in the first six minutes. Plus, Butler had to go to the bench with two early fouls. The Bulls went with a lineup of all reserves midway through the quarter in an attempt to inject some energy. But they fell behind 23-6 and Hoiberg went back to Butler, who scored five straight as the Bulls trailed 29-18 after the first quarter. The Bulls got some offense from Jerian Grant early in the second quarter and with Lopez effective around the basket, the Bulls inched within 45-39 with about four minutes left in the first half. But the Bulls failed repeatedly to control their defensive boards and Harrison Barnes with second shots leading to Mavs scores on three straight possessions. That stretch enabled the Mavs to go into halftime leading 57-45 as Lopez led the Bulls with 13 points and more than a third of the team’s field goals.
The game was still within striking distance, but the Bulls were loose on defense to start the second half, giving up threes to Barnes and Wesley Matthews as Dallas surged into a 67-49 lead three minutes into the third quarter and a Bulls timeout. But the Mavericks kept piling it on with a pair of lobs sandwiched around a Matthews three for a 74-53 Dallas lead. Butler then returned to pile driving to the basket in what little offense the Bulls could get, though his 21 points after three quarters was not enough as the Bulls went into the fourth quarter trailing 82-66. Hoiberg then opened the fourth quarter with a reserve group of Grant, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, Denzel Valentine and Isaiah Canaan. That group had a little going with a pair of Valentine jumpers to get within 86-74. But as Hoiberg sent the starters to check in, they made a pair of turnovers for five Dallas points and a 91-74 Mavs lead with 7:05 left.