The Bulls (7-4) battled back from another slow third quarter to defeat the Dallas Mavericks (7-4) 88-83 on Friday night at the American Airlines Center.
Derrick Rose led the team with 22 points and 6 assists. Taj Gibson added 17 points to go along with a career-high 18 rebounds. Joakim Noah pulled down 17 rebounds and chipped in 10 points and Kyle Korver scored 14 points off the bench.
The Bulls came out very strong defensively–holding Dallas to 13 points in the first quarter and took a 39-35 lead going into halftime.
Just like in Wednesday night’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Bulls would start the third quarter not being able to find any rhythm on the offensive end and the Mavericks would go on a 20-4 run to start the quarter, giving them a 55-43 lead before Chicago would close the quarter on a 13-4 spurt, cutting their deficit to 59-56 going into the fourth.
Both clubs would go back and forth until the Bulls regained the lead after a C.J. Watson three-pointer made the game 71-69 with 6:13 remaining. The last lead Dallas would see would come off a Tyson Chandler (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) free throw, making the game 77-76 with 3:15.
Korver’s corner jumper with 1:59 left put Chicago ahead for good at 81-79, and the lead grew to six when Rose made one of two free throws, putting the score at 86-80 with 10.1 seconds remaining.
Jason Terry’s three-pointer with 6.9 seconds made it interesting, with the score being 86-83, but Korver’s two free throws with 6 seconds closed the game.
The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who had 36 points, 8 rebounds and was the only player for Dallas who had anything going offensively.
The Bulls outscored the Mavericks 42-26 in the paint.
Chicago’s next game is Tuesday, where they will face the Los Angeles Lakers.
TAJ GETS AGGRESSIVE
Gibson entered the game having shot 1-16 in his previous two outings against the Rockets and Spurs.
Gibson went 7-12 in Friday nights win and got back to attacking the rim and being less reliant on his jumper.
BULLS FLEX MUSCLES ON THE GLASS
Noah and Gibson had a combined 35 rebounds compared to 34 as a team for the Mavericks. The Bulls pulled down 59, including 20 on the offensive glass.
CONFIDENCE BOOST FOR WATSON
Maybe more important than Taj’s night was the 13 points by C.J. Watson.
Watson may have played his best game as a Bull and was even left in the game in the closing minutes, knocking down two huge free throws to help the team sustain the lead.
NOWITZKI HELD IN CHECK
After scoring 30 in the first three quarters, Nowitzki was only able to get two field goals in the 4th.
Taj did a great job sticking to Nowitzki, forcing him to make contested looks instead of the easy catch and shoot baskets he was giving throughout the game. He was held without a field goal throughout the final 10 minutes of the game.