Dallas had won 21 of the last 24 regular season meetings against Chicago since 1998. Someone forgot to tell that the Bulls as they used their hustle and energy to defeat the Mavericks 88-83. To add to the fact that Chicago beat historical trends, the Bulls had not fared well at the AAC before tonight. They had lost their last five meetings to the Mavericks. The last time the Bulls beat the Mavericks in Dallas was on Feb. 8th, 2005 (107-100).
The game was a highly entertaining game with both teams playing pretty solid defense. The Bulls really came in riding momentum with their defense. Entering tonight, the Bulls had limited their opponents to just 94.6 points per game. In the five games prior to that, they had allowed 105 points per game.
Dirk Nowitzki was a one-man gang, scoring a game-high 36 points. The problem was he didn't have any backup, Caron Butler was the next leading scorer for the Mavericks with 12 points. People will say that the lack of a consistent scoring option was the demise of the Mavericks but that isn't the case for tonight, it was rebounding and energy. "Tonight I’m concerned about our rebounding," Coach Carlisle said about the issues of the night. "There are going to be nights where Dirk [Nowitzki] is going to have a huge night; he’s that great of a player. But 20 offensive rebounds and 25 second chance points is just tempting fate too much, it’s as simple is that."
Losing the rebounding battle 59-34, giving up 20 offensive rebounds, -26 with points in the paint and -17 in second-chance points are troubling signs in a game, no matter who the opponent is and how your team is faring with it's scoring. As Rick Carlisle has mentioned before, those are, "losing numbers."
The Mavericks flirted with disaster by giving Chicago too many chances and despite good work, they got burned with costly threes. "When that happens, plays like the [Taj] Gibson heave at the end of the clock, those go in," said Carlisle. "It was really disappointing because we played so hard on some of those possessions, but we weren’t able to come up with the ball. Unfortunately, that was the result, and they made a few more shots"
Dallas clearly learned their lesson from New Orleans and handled the third quarter much better. The Mavericks really put the clamps on the Bulls offense, only allowing 17 points. That marked a new season low in terms of points allowed in the third quarter, the previous mark had 19 (twice) against the Clippers and Grizzlies. The third quarter has statistically been the worst defending quarter for the Mavericks. The Mavericks defense has given up the most amount of points in that quarter (25.5).
The Mavericks used a 20-4 run and turned a 4 point deficit into a 12 point lead. The Bulls responded with a 13-4 run to close the the third quarter. While Dallas gained momentum and had the chance to put the game away, that run by Chicago kept them in the game. Brendan Haywood summed up the third quarter, "It was frustrating because we kind of had them on the ropes and this was a game we really wanted to win and we let it slip away at home and coach has been stressing this all year that we’ve got to be a better team at home."
Tonight marked the first back-to-back game of the season. The Mavericks have 18 back-to-backs scheduled this season, they played 20 last season. Dallas went 15-5 in the first game of a back-to-back and 12-8 in the second game of a back-to-back. Dallas has had 3 questionable games to start the season: the offensive rebounding debacle against Memphis, the 3rd quarter barrage with New Orleans and this game against Chicago. This early into the season, do you consider those fluky situations or a disturbing trend? One thing is for sure, the Mavericks need to get a win in Atlanta.