Following a 30-minute weather delay, the Dallas Mavericks outgunned the Chicago Bulls 118-111 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center. J.J. Barea followed up his career game Tuesday with another scorching performance, putting up 26 points on just 14 shots to go along with five assists. Derrick Rose lead the Bulls in defeat with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Despite a flaming start from Chicago early, the Mavericks held fast early, connecting on 7-of-9 3-point attempts in the first quarter to eventually take a 33-26 lead into the second period. After the Bulls took command of the game for most of the second quarter, a late J.J. Barea three and a last second Parsons dunk saw Dallas trailing by a single point heading into the second half.
A wild back-and-forth third quarter saw the Mavericks take a one point lead into the final quarter. The Mavericks played perhaps their strongest fourth quarter of the year on the backs of Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, and Raymond Felton to take home a 118-11 victory.
J.J. Barea has fire coming from his fingertips and it's pretty darn awesome.
Barea picked a heck of a time to go nova. In the past two games, he's hitting a cool 80 percent from deep -- 12-of-15. No one is insane enough to think this sort of shooting will continue, but the fact is, Barea is a 35 percent career three point shooter. After hitting a woeful 24 percent to start the year, it was going to be a few games like these past few to bring him back in line. With Deron Williams out with a hamstring injury, the Mavericks will take it.
His 3-point shot as an offensive threat is exceptionally important in the context of the rest of his game. His driving, passing, and finishing near the rim are all predicated on getting the defense off balance. If he's not hitting from beyond the arc, his drives aren't really a threat, allowing a defender to sag off until he proves otherwise. If Williams continues to miss time, expect these recent performances to spook defenses enough so that JJ can probe the lane with more freedom.
Chandler Parsons is good. Everyone who is being impatient needs to relax.
During halftime of the Mavericks-Bulls game, I went on a small Twitter diatribe about the performance of Chandler Parsons and the need for perspective. I recommend checking it out if you have time. Long story short: his surgery was a scary one and he just needs time to recover his game.
Against the Bulls, he was the "X-factor" in keeping Dallas in the game early and late. Parsons came off the bench after only 90 seconds, when Rick Carlisle recovered from his baffling decision to not match the Bulls backcourt size. His 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist performance was perhaps his finest of the season. He looked confident probing the lane against Chicago's intimidating front line, he shot the ball very well from beyond the arc, and he made the kind of plays we expect from point guards.
He's a good player. He may not be a star and he may not live up to whatever bizarre expectation a fan has for a $15 million per year player, but he's important. Without Parsons, Dallas is going no where. This performance (and a whopping 36 minutes played!) is important as he continues to recover from microfracture surgery.
Dirk Nowitzki is the center of the universe.
No, really. He's so good at basketball and so important in the schemes for Dallas it's hard to write about. How does a 37-year-old power forward who can't play defense and who only took 11 shots wind up a +28 in a second point game? He's the Alpha and Omega of Maverick basketball on the offensive end.
There were two plays in the fourth that were perfect examples of his brilliance. Early in the quarter he got a post entry above the left block on a broken play. He took a few back down dribbles, drawing a second defender. This collapse was enough to open up Wes Matthews on the opposite wing. Dirk saw the opening immediately, kicked it two Matthews, who then reversed the ball to Devin Harris in the corner who nailed a three.
A few plays later, Dirk received the ball just above the free throw line (but inside the three point line). He took two hard dribbles at Mirotic, causes the rest of the Chicago defense to panic and take a step towards him. Dirk took a hard reverse pivot, passed to an open Wes Matthews, who drove hard at the rim and finished with a sweet bucket off the glass.
Neither bucket happens without Dirk. Even at his ripe old age, he causes defenses to panic, and when Dallas is clicking, there's nothing more fun to watch.
Second chance points are awesome. So are points off turnovers.
Did you know the Dallas Mavericks came into the matchup against Chicago as the second worst team in the league in terms of scoring second chance points?
Toss that stat out the window. The Mavericks scored 30 points off second opportunities against the Bulls, mainly off the strength of a whopping 16 offensive boards. Zaza Pachulia lead the effort with six offensive boards of his own, but it was a true team effort. Even the old German fellow chipped in two of his own.
Offensive rebounds are not a statistic most teams chase in the modern NBA, yet the Mavericks took them against what many consider the deepest front line in the NBA.
Dwight Powell had a heck of a game against a big front line.
Powell has been a revelation for most Maverick fans this year and a bit of a salve following the disastrous Rajon Rondo trade last season. Yet consistency is a trait most fans long for in a back up and Powell is still growing and learning as a player.
His nine-point, six-rebound effort against the Bulls should go a long way towards building support in the Maverick fan community. I mean, just look at this finish!
And it wasn't the only one. Powell is an impressive back up and I really hope he continues to build on a performance like this one.