Game 43 Recap: Bulls 82, Mavericks 77

I’m sorry. I thought the Packers-Bears game wasn’t until Sunday.

It was a real defensive battle out there, folks. The kind where it looked like both teams were wading through invisible mud. Chicago hit only 36.9 percent of their shots. Dallas converted on 35.6 of theirs.

The Bulls scored 12 points in the third quarter. That represented the team’s season-low for a single quarter.

The Mavs finished with 77 points. That was their third-lowest output of the season. On December 28, minus leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, they scored 76 points against the Raptors. On January 15, in Dirk’s first game back, they managed only 70 points against the Grizzlies in Memphis.

The teams combined for two fast break points. Chicago had none.

Nowitzki — who is a legitimate MVP candidate — went 6-for-16 from the field, missed both of his three-point attempts, and pulled down only two rebounds in 38 minutes. In case you forgot, the dude is seven feet tall and has averaged 8.4 RPG over his 13-year NBA career.

Derrick Rose had a stellar stat line: Game highs in points (26) and assists (9) to go with 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Of course, he went 9-for-28 from the field, including 5-for-20 in the second half, and committed a game-high 4 turnovers.

Rose was the only Bulls player to score in double figures.

Chicago banged and bumped, contesting every shot. Dallas covered Rose like a blanket made out of barbed wire, daring anybody else to beat them.

Look: It was an ugly game. But the Bulls won.

It’s a credit to two things. Defense and Derrick Rose. That’s how the Bulls are getting by right now. That’s what they have to do. Defend the other team like their life depends on it and let Derrick do what he does.

Chicago currently ranks first in Defensive Rating (99.8). The Bulls have held 14 of their last 15 opponents below 100 points. They’ve held eight of those opponents under 90 points. Seven of those opponents have scored fewer than 85 points. Three of them have scored in the 70s.

As for Rose, well, he doesn’t really want to take all those shots. Last night, he attempted 28 field goals. But, in all fairness, 20 of them were hoisted during the second half, and only after Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau implored him to take more shots.

Said Rose: “Coach [Tom Thibodeau] was mad because he didn’t think I was shooting enough [in the first half]. So I just tried to be aggressive in the second half.”

Yes, Rose shot a lot, and poorly. But he also scored 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter. He made clutch shots. His biggest came with 55 seconds left in the fourth. With the Bulls up a point, Rose nearly lost the ball in the paint before backing it out, throwing a few one-on-one moves at Jason Kidd, and then beating the shot clock with a 19-footer that gave Chicago an 80-77 lead.

Technically, the game wasn’t put on ice until Kyle Korver knocked down a couple free throws with five seconds left. But Rose’s jumper forced the Mavericks to look for three-point shots against a tough defense. And obviously, it didn’t happen.

Luol Deng looked weary — he’s now played at least 40 minutes in 11 of the last 15 games — and missed 10 of his 13 shot attempts. But he grabbed a co-game-high 12 rebounds.

Kurt Thomas provided some scoring (9 points on 4-for-5 shooting) and grabbed 11 boards (including five on the offensive end). He also played strong defense. His biggest play was stealing a pass by Shawn Marion right after Rose’s big shot.

The bench scored 30 points and provided a real spark. Kyle Korver (+14), Ronnie Brewer (+13) and C.J. Watson (+12) had the best plus-minus scores of the game.

But, especially with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah collecting dust on the shelf, the Bulls live and die by what Rose does.

Said Jason Terry: “Derrick Rose is their team. I don’t care who else they have on that roster. He took 28 shots tonight, we made it tough on him. But key guys made some big plays. [C.J.] Watson hit a couple threes and Kurt Thomas was huge for them tonight. Anybody who takes 28 shots, it’s the Jordan rules. You’re not going to guard anyone, he’s just going to keep hoisting them.”

I’m pretty sure Bulls fans are fine with that. And the winning. No matter how ugly it is.

Said Rose: “A win is a win. Everything that went on in that game was kind of terrible, [except for] rebounding and the way we played defense. But we’re just happy to get this win and get it out of the way.”

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

11 Responses to Game 43 Recap: Bulls 82, Mavericks 77

    Torch02 January 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Think about that defensive statement – Since Christmas, the Bulls have held nearly half their opponents to under 85 points a game.

  2. Inception January 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    with all the key injuries, there’s no chance this team would be 29-14 if Del Negro was still coaching here….time to give Thibs the credit he deserves….he may not be an offensive genius, but guess what? offense doesn’t win championships.

    this team would be lost w/o Rose and Thibs….that’s the foundation of CHI right now.

    Savage January 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    I heard one the broadcasters last night mention that in keeping opposing teams FG% the lowest we are #1. That is VERY impressive for a team that seemed to struggle defensively the past couple of years. I agree with Inception on this one Coach T deserves some credit as well as the players picking up their energy on D. I think once our unit is 100% healthy our offense will have a better flow and we will score more. Not to mention improving on an already fierce defense when Noah comes back. Defense wins Championships keep up the effort Bulls!

    inkybreath January 22, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    There is a link to a stat breakdown showing the Bulls are the No. 1 defense in the league. We also have the fifth best winning percentage in the league.

    That is a good place to be going into the second half and about to get healthy. Not to mention, we are closing in on a potential move, as the deadline closes.

    We are trying to get used to life as a .700 team and it is fun. You look at the Clippers game in particular, along with a few more that were razor-thin losses and life could be a lot more rosy, even with our deficiencies.

    Of course, we are a tired team and the All-Star game cannot come soon enough.

    I appreciate that the FO is pretty quiet about what deals are being talked about, but it’s a little frustrating …

    GotNext January 22, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Deng played some stellar D on Dirk. Taj was in constant foul trouble trying guard the German, and Kurt wouldn’t have been able to check him all game. I know Dirk isn’t 100%, but Deng practically shut him down.

    J January 22, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    My hope for the next game vs Cavs bulls blow them out by 3rd quarter (20pts+) and rose and deng get to rest. This would be ideal. Wouldn’t mind seeing JJ play some garbage minutes too.

    Luke January 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    come on guys, this is getting old… after every loss almost everyone on here is bitching and complaining, acting like the season is on its way down… then after a win, everyone steps back sees our overall record and our defense and glorifies everyone. I agree with the latter, I am just sick of the negativity after a loss to the bobcats or sixers, etc.

    The Bulls are going to lose some games they should win… every team goes through it. You’re telling me the Lakers should lose to the Wolves at home? Or Atlanta should get blown out at home against NO? Or Boston losing to Cleveland, Toronto or Detroit? Everyone needs to relax after certain games and realize that its better to lose a few road games, with Noah and/or boozer hurt to non-playoff teams and beat the Bostons/Heat/Lakers/Mavericks at home when we are undermanned. Those are the types of teams we will be playing in the playoffs, when the season actually matters.

    Don’t get me wrong, its very frustrating when the nets and sixers look like above .500 teams because we play bad. But in the end, the negatives of those games dont come close to outweighing the positives of beating the good teams

  8. cliniclysick January 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Very well said Luke. One loss isn’t the end of the world and one win doesn’t solve everything. If we match our first half record we’ll end up 56-26. Looks pretty good to me, we might even do better than that when everybody’s back to 100%.

  9. Inception January 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    @Luke….this is true….you’d rather beat the playoff teams than the weaker teams, because in the end, that’s who we’ll be facing in April/May….BUT, you still want to see your starters get that needed rest in the 4th quarter after handling the weakers teams in the previous 3 quarters….i remember the old Bulls days, where MJ/Pip would ice those knees in the 4th quarter….that was valuable….of course, Rose is only 22, but his style of play is so aggressive, where wear & tear might catch up to him soon this season (especially after playing for the USA team this summer).

    Luke January 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    yes, that is valuable. But look who you are trying to compare the 2011 bulls to… those 2 were veterans and knew how to put a team away so they could rest the 4th quarter. the 2011 bulls are young, like you said, and have to learn how to put a team away the hard way. Rose will be icing his knees in the 4th quarter eventually, but its only his 3rd season…


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