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On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks played the Chicago Bulls as the Mavericks start their three game road trip. The Mavericks are coming off a 93-83 win against the Miami Heat that saw Luka Doncic record season highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds to notch his first double-double of the season. The Mavericks look to start a winning streak for the first time and get on a roll. The Mavs were able to start 2021 by going 1-0 and hope to remain undefeated after this matchup with the Bulls.
On Friday, The Mavericks rang in the New Year of 2021 with a matchup against the Miami Heat. Tim Hardaway Jr notched 18 points as they bounced back from their devastating 118-99 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets in which they trailed by 30 points in the second half of the game. Bam Adebayo scored 19 points and Avery Bradley 15 points for Miami as they tried a late push in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Mavericks held a lead as high as 24 points before the Heat were able to chop some of it off in the late stages of the game. Doncic was able to hit a step-back three pointer late in the second quarter that saw him end a 12-shot draught from behind the arc. As some of you may know, Doncic came into this game struggling making three-point shots and was able to cap off this game by making 3 shots as he tries to fix his three-point shooting woes.
The Chicago Bulls are coming into this game dealing with COVID issues as four players are out due to health and safety protocols. Despite being short handed for this game, they played the Milwaukee Bucks prior to this which resulted in a 126-96 loss to fall to a 2-4 record on the season. Zach LaVine scored 16 points and Denzel Valentine 14 points for the Bulls. Coming into this season, the Bulls saw changes to their roster that resulted in hiring Billy Donovan as their head coach. They also drafted Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick in the draft and signed Garrett Temple in free agency. The Bulls had a key loss of Kris Dunn leaving the team for the Atlanta Hawks in free agency. The Bulls are still a couple years away from being serious contenders in the eastern conference as they are trying to build the team around Coby White.
Entering this game versus the Chicago Bulls, the Mavericks split their regular season series 1-1 last season with the Bulls winning the most recent matchup. In those two meetings, Luka Doncic averaged 30.5 points per game and Colby White averaged 17 points per game against each other. These two teams will meet again on January 19th in Dallas in the first half of the season. Twelve of the last 13 matchups have been close as they were decided by single digits with the Mavericks holding a record of 8-5 in that span. Overall, the Mavericks lead the all-time series with a record of 41-37.
The Mavericks started this game without Luka Doncic as he is dealing with a left quad contusion suffered in the second quarter last game versus the Miami Heat, paving the way for Nate Hinton being active for the first time. The Bulls were able to take a 8-2 run in the early stages of the first quarter by getting easy baskets in the paint as Rick Carlisle saw the score 10-4 and decided to take a timeout. Coming off the timeout, the Mavericks went on a 6-0 run to tie the game with baskets by Tim Hardaway Jr and Jalen Brunson to get the offense going. With 6:07 left in the quarter, Jalen Brunson made a 27-foot three point jumper to give the Mavericks their first lead of the game at 15-12. Jalen Brunson caught fire with 12 points on 4 of 4 from the field including 2 of 2 from deep in 8 eight minutes of play to this point. The Mavericks were able to get two buckets from Willie Cauley-Stein to take a 22-18 lead before Billy Donovan had seen enough and called timeout with 4:12 left in the quarter. In the last minutes of the quarter, the Bulls came storming back thanks to a late surge by Zach LaVine. The Mavericks were able to tie the game at 31 with a late bucket by Trey Burke. It was a good quarter all around for the Mavericks but they will need to find a way to cool off Zach LaVine as he went off by scoring 21 points on 9 of 23 shooting in the quarter. Jalen Brunson had himself a good quarter by scoring 12 points on 4 of 4 shooting in place of Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks would start the second quarter with a pair of buckets by Boban Marjanovic and Tim Hardaway Jr was able to give the Mavericks a 37-35 lead with a driving layup as he was fouled but couldn’t capitalize on the free-throw to finish the three point opportunity. This quarter was a seesaw as it featured both teams exchanging leads. Zach LaVine would enter the game with 7:28 left in the second quarter and was an immediate impact for the Bulls, as he found Otto Porter Jr for a 23-foot three pointer to retake the lead while also scoring a 10-foot jumper to give him a total of 23 points. Rick Carlisle was prompted to take a timeout with the Bulls threatening and saw Mavericks trailing 47-42. Coming off the timeout, Jalen Brunson was able to continue his hot start by scoring a pair of baskets to retake the lead with the score of 48-47. Midway through the second quarter, the Mavericks were carrying an 8-0 run before Otto Porter Jr snapped it with a pair of free-throws with the Bulls being in the bonus. In final stretch of the second quarter, both teams were fighting hard for a loose ball as the Mavericks were struggling to secure a defensive rebound. Thankfully the Mavericks were able to close out the quarter with a 60-59 lead thanks to a Zach LaVine miss at the buzzer. The Mavericks found themselves in a dog fight with the Bulls as Zach LaVine finished the half scoring 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the field. Jalen Brunson took advantage of Luka Doncic missing this game by giving the Mavericks 18 points on 7 of 8 shooting from the field in the first half. The Mavericks finished the half shooting 24 of 44 (54.5%) from the field and 6 of 16 (37.5%) from behind the arc. If the Mavericks can somehow contain Zach LaVine then they will have a pretty good chance at winning otherwise the Mavericks have no shot to keep pace with him.
Coming out of the half, both teams were exchanging three point shots with Josh Richardson answering with a 25-foot three point jumper of his own to keep the Mavericks lead. Both of these teams continue to exchange leads as it was Dorian Finney-Smith’s turn to give the Mavericks the lead on a pair of free-throws but the best he could do was to tie the game at 67 as he went 1 of 2 at the line with 7:14 left in the third quarter. The Mavericks took advantage of a turnover by the Bulls that saw Tim Hardaway Jr being fouled driving to the basket and this time was able to give the Mavericks a 69-67 lead on free-throws. Both of these teams have cooled off a little bit that resulted in trying to get to the free-throw line. With Zach LaVine cooling off, that wouldn’t stop him from finding Colby White for a 23-foot three point jumper on the hockey assist to give the Bulls a 74-73 lead with 4:03 left in the quarter. In the final minutes of the third quarter, the Bulls were able to build a 5 point lead with the score 86-81 to close out the quarter. As expected, Zach LaVine would lead the Bulls in scoring by putting 36 points on 14 of 23 shooting from the field through three quarters. Jalen Brunson would lead the Mavericks with 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field. There have been 13 ties up to this point in this wild scoring game.
The Mavericks tried to comeback in this game with a bucket by Trey Burke to keep the deficit within 5 points with the Bulls leading 88-85 in the early stages of the fourth quarter. The Bulls caught fire by draining two three-point field goals as the Mavericks can’t find a way to answer. The Mavericks found themselves struggling on defense that saw them giving the Bulls second chance points. Rick Carlisle called timeout with 6:55 left in the game in hopes of trying to give the a chance at this game, the Mavericks found themselves on the wrong of the scoreboard that saw 100-91 in favor of the Bulls. With the Mavericks desperately needing a bucket, they turned to Jalen Brunson with a driving layup and finding Willie Cauley-Stein on an alley oop to go on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 5 points midway through the fourth quarter. Otto Porter Jr took advantage of the Mavericks struggling defense with grabbing an offensive rebound and making a shot near the basket while getting fouled, he would go on to complete the three point play by making the free-throw to stretch the lead 106-98 with 4:43 left in the game. The Mavericks were able to go on a 6-0 run to cut the lead within 2 by a score of 106-104 with Rick Carlisle using his challenge on a Zach LaVine shot that resulted in Maxi Kleber being called for the foul, however it was deemed unsuccessful and LaVine made both of his free-throws to drive the score to 108-104 for the Bulls with 3:18 left in the game. In the final 1:50 of the game, the Mavericks were hoping for a couple of stops but the Bulls had other plans with Colby White making a 27-foot three point jumper to effectively seal the deal for the Bulls by stretching the lead to 8 points. The Mavericks tried one last desperation run with Maxi Kleber draining a 27-foot three to cut the lead to 5 points. With a turnover that was reviewed and overturned to give the Mavericks the ball with 1:13 left, Tim Hardaway Jr tried a 24-foot three point jumper to give the Mavericks any hope but missed. In the final seconds of the game, the Mavericks couldn’t buy a shot as the Mavericks had several opportunities to put points on the board with second chances but was unable to do so resulting in fouling Otto Porter Jr to put him to the free-throw line where he would make both of his free-throws putting this game away for good.
This team looked good in the first half but ultimately this is a game that consists of two halves. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the Mavericks found that out. These Mavericks came in without their two stars in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis but you still got to play the game and the Mavericks had trouble containing Zach LaVine. Jalen Brunson did everything he could to fill in Luka Doncic’s role but it wasn’t enough as his teammates couldn’t get it done around him. The Bulls had their superstar in Zach LaVine and it showed in this game and his teammates were able to step up for him. The Mavericks let this game get away from them and it’s something they can’t afford to do this season. Again it was the Mavericks allowing too many second chance points for the Bulls as that was the difference maker in this one.
In the end, it was the Bulls claiming victory in this one with the score of 118-108 to improve their record to 3-4 while the Mavericks fell to 2-4 on the season. The Mavericks had a good first half but saw this game slipped away with poor effort on defense. They were able to cool off Zach LaVine to a degree in the second half but he was able to get his teammates going by finding open looks for them. The Mavericks again were struggling rebounding the ball as the Bulls saw red in the paint and took advantage of it by driving to the basket. Zach LaVine finished with 39 points on 14 of 25 shooting from the field for the Bulls as he was the main force in driving this one home for the Bulls. With Luka Doncic sitting out this game, Jalen Brunson gave the Mavericks 31 points on 11 of 27 shooting from the field as you couldn’t of ask for a better performance from Brunson. The Mavericks finished this game shooting 39 of 88 (44.3%) shooting from the field and 11 of 42 (26.2%) from behind the arc.
The Mavericks continue their road trip as they head back to Texas with a matchup against James Harden and the Houston Rockets tomorrow as they await word on whether or not Luka Doncic will be able to play in that game.