The Chicago Bulls came back in the fourth quarter to defeat the Dallas Mavericks, 115-112. Coby White posted a near triple-double, scoring 24 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out 11 assists for the Bulls. Three different Mavericks, Luka Doncic, McKinley Wright, and Markieff Morris, scored 13 in defeat. With the loss, the Mavericks season is over — Dallas is eliminated from the play-in tournament.
The Mavericks came out sleepy and the Chicago Bulls got an early jump in Dallas in an ugly and lower-scoring first quarter. The Mavericks went on an 14-0 run in the second half of the frame, led by Davis Bertans firing away from distance and JaVale McGee running the floor. The Bulls rallied back with some long twos but the Mavericks closed the quarter up 29-26.
Scoring came easy for Dallas to start the second quarter as well, with Bertans and McGee knocking down threes. The Mavericks led by as many as 15 before Chicago finally found the bottom of the net a time or two. Chicago spent all quarter trying to cut the lead down to a few baskets only for Dallas to connect on what felt like were improbable shots. Jaden Hardy ended the half with an incredible 45-foot three-pointer, giving Dallas a 67-54 lead.
I opted to eat my dinner during most of the third quarter. Chicago finally realized Dallas can’t defend the rim and attacked, but they failed to convert often enough that they couldn’t cut into the Maverick lead by much. It occurred to Patrick Williams that he was the best player on the court in the final few minutes and he attacked enough to finally trim the Dallas lead under seven points. Dallas led 91-85 after three.
A.J. Lawson made the most of his time in the fourth, making athletic plays on the offensive glass and generally looking like a fun player. Chicago was so much more inept than Dallas to start the period, it felt like an inevitable Dallas win. And yet, as had happened all season, a struggling offensive team came back from the dead against the Mavericks, finally cutting the lead all the way down to two, forcing a Dallas timeout. After the timeout, the Bulls started to blow the Mavericks off the floor, taking a lead then expanding it all the way to eight. Yet the back-bench Dallas line up would not die. McKinley Wright rallied Dallas back to within one after Terry Taylor missed two free throws, only for Taylor to dunk with 23 seconds left. The Mavericks proceeded to miss four shots in the next 23 seconds (broken up by two missed free throws by the Bulls) to fall 115-112. The Mavericks are officially out of NBA Play-In Tournament.
This was the best course of action for Dallas to keep their draft pick
There was a great deal of media hand-wringing from both local and national media today when Dallas opted to sit half the team while still being mathematically in the playoffs. They had to win out and hoped the Oklahoma City Thunder would lose though and that is stupid. Getting into the Play-In at this point would prove... what? They’d then need to win two games, each on the roach only to face Denver and Nikola Jokic. This season has been a disaster and the only people who don’t know that haven’t been paying attention.
A.J. Lawson was fun and Dallas should do their best to hold on to him
The Mavericks have never been an athletic team during my time as a fan. Peak athleticism is hard to come by in the NBA and Dallas has always favored the more skilled players over raw athletes and given their 20-plus year track record, I’d say they’ve mostly done well (yes I remember the 2003 team and I know Shawn Marion exists). Lawson brought a spark seen only this year by Josh Green. And I think Lawson’s actually pretty skilled too. He just needed more weight when we saw him in Las Vegas Summer League. He looks to have put some on too.
The back-bench players had no quit in them
I saw some odd proclamations on the bench that Dallas had good bench players all season long only Jason Kidd wouldn’t play them.
That is a bad take and misunderstands how talent matters. Yet these are still professional athletes. That most of them are guys that are this close to getting pushed out of the NBA by the next wave coming in is not their fault. They all battled, McKinley Wright in particular, didn’t want to lose. Respect to those players.
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