How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki went dormant and the Mavs’ defense faltered down the stretch. Oh, and the Bulls absolutely dominated the boards.
Nowitzki scored a season-high 36 points on 15-of-26 shooting, but his final field goal came with 10:15 remaining. The Bulls frequently double-teamed Nowitzki in the final 10 minutes, forcing the ball into the hands of other Mavs. Wise move: Nowitzki’s teammates made only 15 of 49 shots from the floor.
Jason Terry especially struggled. He went 3-of-15 from the floor, missing all but one of his eight 3-point attempts.
And the Mavs couldn’t get stops during crunch time. The Bulls scored 32 points in the fourth quarter.
The Mavs’ biggest defensive problem was that they couldn’t keep the Bulls from getting second opportunities. Chicago frequently exposed a flaw in the Mavs’ zone defense, snatching 20 offensive rebounds, including seven in the fourth quarter. The Bulls converted those boards into 25 second-chance points.
What it means: The Mavs’ home mediocrity continues. They keep talking about making protecting their home court a priority, but the Mavs have been much better on the road. They’re 4-3 at home and 3-1 away from the cozy confines of the American Airlines Center.
Play of the game: Tyson Chandler emphatically swatted C.J. Watson’s layup off the glass … and Chicago power forward Taj Gibson tracked down the ball 25 feet from the hoop on the right wing. With the shot clock ticking down, Gibson had no choice but to heave the first 3-point attempt of his NBA career. Nothing but net, giving the Bulls a two-point lead with 2:37 remaining. The Mavs never regained the lead.
Stat of the night: Nowitzki rediscovered his long-distance stroke in the second half, knocking down three of four 3-point attempts. He was 2-of-11 from 3-point range in the season’s first 10 games.