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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Bulls, Mavericks do what they do best

By ESPN Stats & Info

When the Chicago Bulls win, they don’t leave any doubt.

The Bulls 45-point win over the 76ers, their biggest triumph ever against Philadelphia, on Tuesday was their third victory this season by at least 30 points. That’s the most such wins in the NBA.

That also represented the largest margin of victory for any team in the NBA this season, surpassing the Magic’s 42-point win over the Timberwolves on November 3.

Chicago’s last four wins (over the Timberwolves, Pacers, Raptors and 76ers) have come by a combined 112 points, with none of the margins being smaller than 17 points. That’s a stark contrast to its first 13 victories, of which only one was by more than a dozen points.

How are the Bulls getting it done?

The return of forward Carlos Boozer has been pretty significant. Chicago is 8-3 in his 11 games played since his return. With his help, the Bulls had 52 points in the paint, their third straight game of 50 or more (following a streak of four straight games of 40 or fewer), and shot 64.5 percent from the field, their second-best shooting game post-Michael Jordan (they shot 67 percent in a win over the Bucks in 2008). Boozer went 7-for-12, which actually dropped his shooting percentage over the last four games down to only 60 percent.

The difference between a blowout win and a narrow loss has been in how Chicago defends the 3-point shot. In their last three wins, the Bulls have held opponents to 8-for-46 shooting from 3-point range. Their loss to the Clippers last Saturday was partly due to Los Angeles making eight of its 17 3-point attempts.

While the Bulls kept winning big, the Dallas Mavericks continued winning, and winning on back-to-back days. The Mavericks improved to an NBA-best 5-0 this season in the second game of back-to-backs, with a 105-99 win over the Orlando Magic. Dallas joined the Utah Jazz as the two teams this season that have defeated the Magic and Miami Heat in consecutive road games.

The most notable statistical accomplishment from this win was that while Dirk Nowitzki didn’t have his best day, he did reach a meaningful milestone.

Nowitzki, who entered the day as the league’s best shooter from 15 to 19 feet (58 percent), was 4-for-13 from the field overall. But, he moved into 25th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, dispatching league legend Larry Bird from that list in the process