Circus Trip: Bulls 88, Mavs 83

Midway through the third quarter, Dirk Nowitzki scored seven straight points — two layups sandwiched around a three-pointer — to give Dallas a 55-43 lead.

That 12-point lead represented a 23-point turnaround from the 11-point lead Chicago had built during the second quarter. And I bet I’m not the only person who was having flashbacks to the Bulls’ third quarter massacre in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Anyway, Dirk was having one of those nights — a game-high 36 points on 15-for-26 shooting — and I was thinking that the story of this game was going to be Taj Gibson’s inability to contain Nowitzki.

Turns out the real story was Dirk’s inability to contain Taj.

Gibson, whose shooting during the first two games of the circus trip (1-for-16) was just a few degrees above absolute zero, had one of the best coming-out-of-a-slump games I’ve ever seen. The kid hustled. He fought. He scrapped. He finished with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting and a career-best 18 rebounds. Even more impressive was the fact that 8 of those boards came on the offensive end.

Said Taj: “Coach knows I’ve been working on my jumper, but he said don’t rely on jump shots. Attack the glass and hit the boards. I’ve struggled the last two games so he challenged me.”

That’s kind of ironic, because the Taj Gibson moment of the game happened with 2:48 left in the game. The Mavericks were leading 77-76 and putting the clamps on defensively. C.J. Watson got to the rim but had his shot thoroughly blocked by former Bull Tyson Chandler. The ball ricocheted, glanced of Nowitzki and ended up in Gibson’s hands. With the shot clock about to go off, Taj let it fly over Dirk’s outstretched hands.

Boom baby.

It was the first three-point attempt of Gibson’s career. He’s now a 100 percent three-point shooter, so look out NBA.

That trey was the biggest of several big-time shots the Bulls hit during their 32-point fourth quarter. Derrick Rose converted a tough layup and then hit a 13-footer while getting fouled on the very next possession. Kyle Korver beat the shot clock with a three from almost 30 feet out. C.J. Watson buried a three-pointer off a nice pass from Joakim Noah. Noah turned an offensive board into a layup that seemed to defy the laws of physics. Korver nailed another long jumper.

But despite all those clutch shots, the game came down to who wanted it more. And don’t misunderstand me. The Mavericks brought it. They swarmed the ball and really put it to the Bulls on the defensive end. But check out the rebounding stats: Chicago won the War of the Rebounds 59-34, including 20-9 on the offensive glass. According to the Basketball-Reference box score, Chicago’s Offensive Rebounding Percentage was 44.4 percent.

In other words, the Bulls pulled down nearly half of their available offensive rebounds. The Bulls ended up scoring 25 points off those offensive boards. Oh, and Chicago outscored Dallas 42-26 in the paint.


Noah, who had 17 rebounds himself, said: “I can’t go through the motions. I’ve got to keep going after the ball. We fought hard even when we were behind. We’re not a team that gives up.”

You know what? I’m starting to really believe that. Even looking at that third quarter collapse against the Spurs, the Bulls played well enough in that game to build a 17-point lead in the second quarter on the second night of back-to-back road games. And even after San Antonio blitzkrieged them in the third, they fought back and made the Spurs sweat out the fourth.

Then there was last night’s performance in Dallas. Big time. Just big time.

And mind you, Rose kept getting yanked in and out of the game after getting cut on the nose by Nowtizki with less than a minute left in the third quarter. I kept thinking the “Magic Johnson Rule” was going to cost the Bulls the game.

But everybody stepped up.

Sweet Play of the Night:
See Derrick dish it, then watch Luol finish it.

TrueHoop Network:
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: “Reasons why the Mavericks lost their fourth game of the season: Taj Gibson (17 points, 7-12 FG, 18 rebounds), offensive rebounding (Chicago had a monstrous 44.4 offensive rebounding rate), lack of offensive balance (Dirk Nowitzki had half of the Mavs’ field goals), and divine intervention. I don’t know how else to explain the consistently bizarre occurrences that came during the dwindling seconds of seemingly every shot clock. The Bulls worked hard enough to win, but they had some help.”

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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6 Responses to Circus Trip: Bulls 88, Mavs 83

  1. TBF November 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    This just shows how much better this team is this year, even without Boozer yet. They fell behind on the road to a great defensive team, in just the same way they’d fallen behind the last game. Last year’s Bulls would have folded up and lost. This Bulls team kept battling and ended up with a hard-fought win. I like that mental toughness; you need that when you get to he playoffs.

    Gibson’s game shows precisely why he’s better than Tyrus Thomas ever was or ever will be. Thomas fell in love with that jumper. He’d just sit back and take those jumpers, even as he missed shot after shot. Taj is different. His shot hasn’t been going, so he took it upon himself to answer his coach’s challenge and get some work done on the glass. And what do you know, it helped him get some offensive rhythm. I’m a big believer that, when the shots are going in, if you can get yourself active on the glass or in the passing lanes or blocking shots, you’ll work yourself into the flow and the shot will come back. Great lunch-pail effort from Taj. Love the hard work.

    Luol had some hustle plays that won’t show up on his mediocre box score. With the game on the line and the Bulls missing a key shot, Luol tracked the rebound down and out-jumped two Mavs for it. That’s a good rebound and it won’t show up on the stat sheet as more than just 1. I like Luol right now…he’s good enough to play the 3 and the 4 if he has to. I also love that he’s starting to drive the lane with authority, rather than just shooting jump shots. The only problem is that he tends to get out of control when he drives and he picks up offensive fouls. Thibs has to make sure he doesn’t get discouraged and stop driving, but also has to teach him to have a little body control when he goes in there. If he can add a good dribble-drive to his game in addition to his new-found 3 point shot he’ll be a big help as a #3 option when Boozer comes back.

    Kyle Korver can shoot the ball. Man. Love it.

    Bogans had another one of those games where he just is invisible. He needs to work on his consistency. I’m not saying he needs to drop 20 a night, but if he could get up around 10, instead of at 5 where he is now, it’d really help out. In the last 3 games he’s had 6 points and shot 2 of 8 from downtown without getting to the line once. He’s also had 1 rebound and 1 assist over that 3 game stretch. He’s added no steals and no blocks. Granted, he’s only played 49 minutes over 3 games, but still, with a game’s worth of minutes, you need to fill the stat sheet a little more. That’s not going to cut it.

    Great win for our team. Wins like this build confidence and character.

    BoppinBob November 20, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    Like I keep saying, we have to have patience with these Bulls, at least until Boozer can work into the rotation. This is a basically a young team getting most of the playing time. They haven’t been together very long yet they are battling through every game and making a contest of it every time. At times they are disappointing, and other times they are absolutely thrilling. It seems to me that Gibson has been forcing things/trying too hard. Last night I thought he let the game come to him offensively and just worked hard on defense and rebounding. During the fourth quarter Gibson did a very good defensive job on Nowtizki. Everybody seemed to step up and contribute during the Dallas game. I only saw the second half, and during the third quarter I thought that the Bulls were just a step slow defensively. Near the end of the third they seemed to catch their stride defensively and turned up the excitement. I can’t wait to see what Gibson does coming off the bench behind Boozer. The coaching staff and the players made some very good adjustments during the late third quarter and the early forth quarter. I really liked what saw last night and what I saw against the Spurs as far as the attempted come back. The Bulls do not give up, they just keep fighting.

    bullsfandom November 21, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    They just need one more win on this circus trip to make this 2 weeks a success, which in my opinion seems very doable. Assuming they don’t shock the Lakers, they have a Suns team that may be without their quarterback and a Kings team that is perennially sub-par.

    Andre November 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    basketball fans should check out

    inkybreath November 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    I was scared for this game when I saw that Caron Butler might play. He always seems to wreck the Bulls. This win is a good sign, especially when we see that the Spurs are a beast right now – makes me feel better about that loss.

    All else aside, it is so comforting to have Korver on the team. So many years of streaky shooters has taken a toll on my nerves. You’ve got to appreciate when 50% from 3 is an off night.

    Chuck November 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    I have been saying this since pre-season and I’ll say it again. This team is another shot-creator from being a serious contender right now. It is time to roll the dice and trade for Arenas. RIGHT NOW! He would give the team another legitimiate threat from anywhere on the court that would take pressure off of Rose and spread the floor even more. The Wiz would give him away for a bag of basketballs and we are under the cap so we don’t have to match salaries.
    Then the bench would be: Taj, Asik, Brewer, Bogans and Watson. That is some firepower riding pine.

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