How it happened: The Mavs faded in the fourth quarter as the Bulls tightened the defensive screws.
Chicago held the Mavs to 15 points on 6-of-25 shooting in the final frame. Bulls center Joakim Noah keyed Chicago’s dominant defense, spending most of the quarter in Dirk Nowitzki’s face and coming up with steals on two consecutive possessions at one point.
Nowitzki finished what had been a phenomenal February with an off night, scoring 15 points on 7-of-18 shooting. Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 20 points, but he was only 7-of-19 from the floor.
Power forward Taj Gibson led the Bulls with 20 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.
The Mavs didn’t trail until the Bulls took a 73-72 lead late in the third quarter. Dallas lit it up for most of the first half, going into halftime shooting 48.7 percent from the floor. Vince Carter had 14 points and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the first half, but he only scored one point after halftime.
What it means: The Mavs slipped to seventh place in the Western Conference with their loss and the Golden State Warriors’ win over the New York Knicks. Dallas dropped to 36-24, finishing the month of February with a 9-3 record. The Bulls won for the eighth time in nine games, improving to 32-26 and tying the Toronto Raptors for the third best record in the East.
Play of the game: After catching a pick-and-roll pass near the free throw line, Noah delivered a pretty pass to a slashing Gibson, who dunked over Samuel Dalembert and a couple of other Mavs. The bucket stretched the Bulls’ lead to four with a little less than four minutes remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 4-3 when Nowitzki is held to 15 or fewer points this season.