The Chicago Bulls vs. Dallas Mavericks went into action last night in the Bulls’ fourth home game of the season. The Bulls are coming off of a 30-point loss on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Day. The Dallas Mavericks have secured their second win of the season, also on New Year’s Day, against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. In the end, the Bulls came out on top in this one 118-108 at home.
Injuries were certainly a large concern for these teams coming into this game. The Chicago Bulls have been dealing with some COIVD-19 issues after having won twice in Washington. First, it was Chandler Hutchinson who tested positive and then their backup point guard Tomas Satoransky. Plus, their star power forward, Lauri Markkanen was left with them due to COVID protocols while he was dealing with a leg injury.
The Dallas Mavericks had it no easier. Obviously, they were already without their star Kristaps Porzingis due to right knee surgery. Hee is expected to return by this weekend. However, the Mavericks were left without their young star, Luka Dončić, who had sustained a quad contusion and was kept out of the game.
Jaylen Brunson started hot against the Bulls with 18 points in the first half. Brunson used his muscular size against the skinnier and weaker defensive Coby White to back him into the post and nail mid-range shots throughout the game. Brunson ended with 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, shooting 65% from the field throughout the game.
While Coby White certainly could not hold his own on defense, he made up for it on the offensive end. Coby shot 50% from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range to get him 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Coby White put up just 2 of his 23 points in the first half and did most of his work in the second half with 21 points.
Without the help of the Bulls’ deeper rotation in this one, Zach LaVine played 39 minutes and put up 39 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists to help his Bulls team take the victory. Lavine was in attack mode all night, carving the lane and taking tough three-point shots to lead the Bulls’ young squad.
One tough spot for the Mavericks in this one was their three-point percentage. The Mavericks are currently last in the NBA in team 3-point percentage, shooting an abysmal 30.7% from distance. Last night against the Bulls, they shot 26.2% from deep. Certainly without Luka Dončić, not only making three-point shots but creating them was certainly difficult for the Mavericks. The starting five for the Mavericks shot just 27.5% from distance, led by a tough outing from Tim Hardaway Jr., who shot 2/12 from three-point land.
Dallas has also struggled to rebound this season against their opponents. They average just 50 rebounds per game against their opponent, ranking 25th in the NBA. The Bulls are an average rebounding team, ranking 14th in total rebounds per game. But, the Bulls proved right in this one, outrebounding the Mavericks 48-41.
On the bright side, while the Mavericks rank last in the NBA currently in team assists, they picked up their game by posting 23 team assists as opposed to the Bulls’ 16 team assists. It certainly speaks to the Mavericks one-on-one defense, allowing the Bulls to put up 118 points off of just 16 assists. But, at least on the offensive side, the Mavericks are helping each other out from their deep chart of guards.
For the Bulls, it looked like they finally stepped up a little bit defensively. The Bulls kept the Mavericks to shooting 44.3% from the field and just 26.2% from three-point land. Also, they kept the Mavericks to the second-lowest point total they have against any opponent this season, with just 108 points. The Bulls really played aggressively with their matchups too, posting 11 steals in the game too.
The Bulls finally quit forcing the three-point shot and attacked in this one too. They drew in 27 personal fouls from the Mavericks and turned it into 27 points from free throws off of 90% shooting from the line. This surely helped them secure the victory, as the Mavericks shot just 70% from the charity stripe.
The Bulls still could use some work on defense. Allowing anyone 31 points in a game is not good, but allowing a player who is probably a below-average starting guard in the league is not acceptable. Brunson and the Mavericks were able to take heavy advantage of the Bulls’ work-in-progress pick and roll defense.
The Bulls will need that win as insurance going into a tough stretch of games this week. They will take on the Blazers tomorrow night, and then they will have the Lakers, Clippers, and Celtics in three of their next four games.
As for the Mavericks, they will have the Rockets on Monday night, followed by the Nuggets on Thursday night. But, their schedule lightens a bit with the Magic, Pelicans, and Hornets in their next few games. Luka Dončić is listed as probable for their game against the Rockets.