Apparently, the Chicago Bulls had enough.
A see-saw fourth quarter with mini-scoring runs was put to a screeching halt near the midway point, as the visiting Bulls disposed of the Dallas Mavericks, 100-91. The spirited Chicago defense shut down the Mavs midway through the final period, but it was the Bulls’ offense that momentarily stole the show. Mike Dunleavy‘s three-pointer put them up 87-85 at the 4:52 mark and the Mavericks never led again.
The win pushed the Bulls to their ninth win in their past 11 games, as they continue to put the league on notice that they’re still one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference. Normally known for being a rugged defense that allows opponents little breathing room, the Bulls have unusually met or surpassed the 100-point barrier in four of their last five contests. They’ve also won five of their last seven road games with two of their next three dribbles taking place on the road (at the Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons).
Their recent scoring burst has been a bit of a surprise considering they’re currently the lowest-scoring team in the NBA (92.9 points per game). However, their workmanlike effort without superstar point guard Derrick Rose continues to be the key contributor to their success. Taj Gibson (20 points, 15 rebounds) was a terror for the Mavs frontcourt players, as he paced five players in double figures. Guards Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich had 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Dallas, who entered the game a season-high 13 games over .500, received 20 points from Monta Ellis. Team leader Dirk Nowitzki was held in check, shooting just 7-of-18 from the floor for 15 points, mainly due to the smothering Bulls defense that held him to zero free-throw attempts. In fact, Dallas had just 17 attempts from the charity stripe, settling for numerous long-range shots throughout, and were outscored 27-15 in the fourth quarter.
On a historical note, Nowitzki continues to move up the NBA career scoring charts, now sitting just 97 points behind John Havlicek for 12th place on the all-time scoring list. Thus far he’s passed Jerry West, Reggie Miller and Alex English this season.