After a 3-game skid against the Pistons, the Knicks, and the Nets, and some locker room player/coach controversy, the Bulls tried to start a fresh winning streak by knocking off the Thunder on Christmas Day. They ran into a speed bump against the Mavericks on Saturday night, falling 118-111. The Bulls are still searching for an identity, having struggled with lethargy and lacking confidence in each other, the system, and the coach. Although these qualities won’t go away overnight – rest assured they will be back – they haven’t reared their ugly heads in these last two contests. The Bulls played with motivation, purpose, and (some) unity, despite the loss. Aside from the 18 turnovers that led to the difference in the game, they played with as much energy as we could expect in a back-to-back. Poor decision-making and communication, high turnover numbers, and excellent Mavs’ three point shooting led to the loss.
- Derrick Rose was closer to vintage tonight than we’ve seen this year. Although his court vision and decision-making still leave something to be desired, he was attacking early and often, and he’s clearly still fast when he wants to be – his bursts tonight were second to none. He finished with 25 points on 12/20 and four assists. One of the vintage Rose highlights was a hesitation up-and-under past four Mavs defenders:
- The Bulls did a much better job with ball movement. On most possessions, no one player held the ball too long or dribbled excessively, and more importantly, players weren’t standing around watching the action but had better off-the-ball motion that led to some rhythm jumpers or shots near the rim.
- The Bulls gave up so many threes I stopped counting. No I didn’t, they Mavs shot 48.5% on 16/33 with JJ Barea accounting for seven (7/8). Most of these were due to poor communication on switches, often involving Pau and Taj (usually Pau left Taj out to dry). We’ve spoken at length about Pau’s frustrating defensive shortcomings at DRosesAndThorns, so I won’t go on a diatribe, but I’m left shaking my head.
- Nikola Mirotic had a pretty solid game tonight with 23 points and 4/7 from deep, and took it to Dirk on one particularly noteworthy series with a block on one end and the and-one on the other.
- #FreeBobbyPortis update: This was not his night – in the first quarter, he had a stretch of three turnovers in four minutes, one that was particularly boneheaded where he didn’t fully step out of bounds after a made basket and the ref called him on it – this wasn’t the first time he’d done this. He just got caught. Needless to say, he didn’t see much action after that.
- The Bulls were plagued by a lack of energy. Aside from the normal Pau fatigue, we saw a lineup in this back-to-back that included first quarter minutes for Cameron Bairstow – the first such sighting all year. Hinrich/Butler/McDermott/Bairstow/Portis with -6 in about a minute and a half. We also saw a funky lineup of Brooks/Hinrich/McDermott/Gibson/Portis that had similarly concerning results.
- Tony Snell received a DNP-CD once again.
- Coming up: The Bulls hostToronto on Monday night.