Sunday, March 7, 2010
Dallas Mavericks 122, Chicago Bulls 116
The Mavericks finished the night burning the nets to the tune of 56 percent shooting.
The Dallas Mavericks are bruised but not broken.
Though the Mavericks are dealing with a possible two-week stint without sixth man Jason Terry (facial surgery), the indefinite timetable for the return of center Erick Dampier (dislocated right middle finger), and big man Brendan Haywood's recent back trouble, the team is still playing winning basketball. Entering Chicago with a 10-game winning streak, the Mavs began a two-game road trip with hopes of battling through the injuries and extending the NBA's longest active victorious stretch.
Listed as a game-time decision before the game, Haywood was unable to give it a go after still experiencing tightness in his lower back from the Mavs' 108-100 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Just 24 hours later, the Mavericks traveled to the Union Center to meet the Bulls for the first time this season. With only nine players dressing for the game, the shorthanded Mavs kept the good times rolling, handing the Bulls their fourth straight loss with a 122-116 road victory on the second night of a back-to-back.
"We're not really worried about other teams right now. We're just trying to focus on us getting better. The biggest they is for us to get healthy. We won shorthanded tonight, but that just shows how deep we are. Everybody is focused on one thing and that's winning," point guard Jason Kidd said after the win.
With two 7-footers sidelined, the Mavericks began the game with a "small ball" lineup of Kidd, rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. Butler and Nowitzki carried Dallas' offensive attack early, helping the Mavs match the Bulls' energy level. The duo combined to score 19 in the opening quarter, lifting the Mavericks to a 30-26 lead after one.
The Mavs continued their scoreboard dominance in the second stanza, as reserves J.J. Barea and Eduardo Najera secured the second unit in Terry's absence. The Mavericks also did the job defensively, switching to a zone to keep the reigning Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose out of the lane. With Marion cutting to the basket and finishing at the rim off Kidd's court vision, the lead reached double figures. After Beaubois' spectacular block on Bulls big man Brad Miller, the Dallas defense sparked a 12-4 run to finish the half with a 66-55 advantage.
"I think we're loaded," Kidd said. "We have guys who know how to put the ball in the basket, and we all enjoy sharing the ball and being part of a play that's successful."
Thanks to Kidd's 11 first half assists, Butler's 15 points and Marion's 14 led the Mavericks to 59 percent shooting from the field. Despite Rose's 15 points, the Bulls connected on just 47 percent in comparison.
With the team looking stagnant coming out of the intermission, Beaubois tried to stabilize the squad with his silky stroke from the outside. Rose came right back at the Dallas defense, speeding the tempo up and forcing the issue to help the Bulls to a 13-5 run. But Beaubois looked like a veteran in the quarter, putting the team on his back with timely scoring after the Bulls cut Dallas' lead to as little as three. After setting a career-high in the win over the Kings, the Guadeloupe native poured in 18 points in the third with an array of shots to eclipse that mark, while also putting Dallas ahead 94-80 entering the final quarter.
"(Beaubois) played great tonight," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said while praising the rookie. "He had 18 in that third quarter for us, which was a big lift. He hit timely shots for us then, when the Bulls were on a run. We're going to need him to continue playing like that with JET (Terry) out."
"Jason Kidd pushed me saying, 'Just play, just play.' It was going in, so I kept pushing and it was good," Beaubois said of his big third quarter.
The young guard rested early in the fourth after exerting a ton of energy in the third. As Beaubois sat, Rose and Jannero Pargo tried to will their team back into the game. But after the Bulls closed to within 98-94, the Mavericks responded with a jumper from Nowitzki and Butler's three to keep Chicago at bay.
"Right now, with JET out, the ball's going to go through (Nowitzki) a lot," Carlisle said of the fourth quarter strategy. "It's going to go through (Nowitzki), Butler and Kidd."
The two shooting assassins continued to do the job in the period, taking the lead back up to double digits. Despite Pargo's "never say die" attitude, cutting the lead to 121-116 on a three with 46.4 ticks remaining, fittingly Beaubois clinched the game with a rebound after a defensive stand with 12.5 seconds left. The rookie then found Butler, who dribbled out the clock for the Mavs' 11th straight win. The Mavs grabbed the win despite being outscored 36-28 in the fourth.
"Our team played well, particularly in the first three quarters. In the fourth, we did what we had to do," Carlisle said.
The Mavericks finished the night burning the nets to the tune of 56 percent shooting. With the big fourth quarter, the Bulls hit on 52 percent at the other end. The Mavs took turns exchanging bombs from behind the 3-point arch, as Dallas hit on 11-of-27 from long range. Both teams protected the ball well, as Dallas surrendered just seven turnovers and Chicago gave it away nine times.
Nowitzki led five Maverick scorers in double figures with 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting. For the third straight game, Beaubois matched or surpassed his best scoring output, finishing with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-17 from the floor.
"It feels pretty good. I've gotten the opportunity to play, so I'm trying to be aggressive -- just play," Beaubois said of his third straight explosive night. "My teammates have given me good passes. My coaches, everybody, have been helpful...(Kidd) knows everything. He's given me some advice and I really appreciate it."
"(Beaubois) is a talent," Kidd exclaimed. "He's going to be a special player in this league. He's a great student. He has all the tools to be successful. He's working extremely hard. This was his first back-to-back and he got a little tired there. He's a guy that people really don't know, but he can shoot, he has long arms to defend and you can't teach speed."
Butler matched Beaubois' 24-point output, recording his best scoring night since joining the Mavericks. Marion added 18 points, while Najera added 11 off the bench with 3-of-6 from behind the 3-point arch.
"The thing that was good about this game is we had real balanced contributions. I thought our guys on the bench played extremely important roles. Najera came in and hit some threes and was solid defensively," Carlisle added.
Kidd's direction made it all possible, finishing just four points shy of a triple-double. The 36-year-old recorded his 22nd double-double of the season, dishing out 15 assists and snatching 11 rebounds. It is the fourth time the future Hall-of-Famer has collected 10-plus assists and 10-plus rebounds in a game this season. He's the only player in the league to have reached that feat in 2009-10.
"Tonight, I didn't have to score. My guys were knocking down shots," Kidd said.
"We're a motion team that has one of the great all-time point guards running the show. His contribution was huge in helping us play well...Kidd helped us spread the floor and he gets a lot of our guys juiced up. He has helped Beaubois with some of his encouragement and telling him to shoot. He does a lot more for us besides scoring. Everything starts on this team with Kidd and Nowitzki," the coach explained.
Rose led six Bulls in double figures with a game-high 34 points, hitting on 15-of-22.
"(Rose) is scary. He's a great player. We went through this last year with him too," Carlisle said of the second-year guard.
The Mavericks now finish up their mini road trip in Minnesota on Monday night, looking to run their win streak to a dozen. Dallas leads the season series with the Timberwolves 2-1, including an 89-77 road win on Nov. 13. The Mavs and Wolves will meet for the fourth and final time, with the game airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.
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