The Chicago Bulls came into the American Airlines Center after a tough loss to the Spurs, and the Mavericks returned home after a disappointing last-minute loss to the Hornets. The game seesawed back and forth throughout the night, but in the end it was the Bulls who got the better of the Mavericks.
There was one Maverick who played like he wanted to win, and he did so in stunning fashion. Dirk Nowitzki played as hard as he could without much of a supporting cast. In the first 10 games, Dirk made two three-pointers. Tonight? He made three on his way to scoring 36 points (eight rebounds) in 41 minutes. The only other player who scored in double digits was Caron Butler who only had 12. Chandler had 10 rebounds and eight points, but his fourth quarter passion simply wasn't enough to win it. Terry had a rough shooting night, and JJ Barea contributed absolutely nothing of value.
So what happened? Well, the Mavericks almost lost it completely with that godforsaken three-guard lineup halfway through the fourth quarter. They were able to battle back and keep it close, but in the end their inability to crash the boards left them winless. The Bulls had 59 rebounds. You read that right. 59, as compared to the Mavericks measly 34. In addition, not ONE Dallas player hit all of his free throws. What happened to this team being the best in the league from the line?
The end of the game was a glass case of emotion, complete with freakish shots, lead changes, missed free throws and silly fouls. Here is a mini play-by-play for your reading pleasure (or suffering, as the case may be):
Taj Gibson hit a miracle three to put the Bulls up by two with just over two minutes to play. On the other end, Caron Butler hit two free throws with the confidence of a veteran to tie the game up again. Then Kyle Korver hit a long two (thank goodness it wasn't another freak three) and the lead changed again. Derrick Rose hit a pair of free throws after Dallas couldn't capitalize on a big offensive rebound from Tyson Chandler.
On the next possession, Gibson fouled out with 17 points and 18 rebounds (a career night). Nowitzki went to the line and only made one... what's THAT about? The Bulls got the ball back, and C.J. Watson hit some big free throws and brought the lead to five. Jason Kidd hit Jason Terry on the inbounds and the JET couldn't get liftoff. He missed the three with 10 seconds and the Bulls snagged the rebound. Rose went to the line and one of his free throws to put the Bulls up six. THEN Kidd hit Terry on the inbounds again, but this time JET MADE the three.
Korver received the inbounds pass and was fouled immediately, as is tradition. He knocked them both down before the Mavericks took another time out. Kidd tried Terry again but it was all over. What a roller coaster. Let me off this one, please.