Nowitzki, Bradley put Bulls away early in rout


CHICAGO (AP) -- With one of their toughest stretches of the
season ahead, the Dallas Mavericks played with one eye on the floor
and the other on the schedule.

Dirk Nowitzki led six Mavericks in double figures with 24 points
Friday night, as Dallas got off to a quick start and then turned it
over to the bench for a 114-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

At 5-0, the Mavericks are off to their best start in franchise

"We did what we needed to do, rested the big-minute guys,''
said Shawn Bradley, who had 11 rebounds and eight blocks. "It's a
nice way to start a back-to-back.''

The Mavericks host Detroit on Saturday night, and then face four
more playoff teams in their next five games. That includes trips to
Boston and New Jersey, as well as a visit from the Lakers.

"The season gets tough now,'' said Chicago native Michael
Finley, who scored 14 despite shooting 4-of-15 from the floor.

With that kind of brutal schedule in front of them, the last
thing Dallas wanted was a close game with the Bulls.

"They're a young, energetic team,'' Bradley said. "You give
them any type of hope, any kind of opening and with their energy,
they're going to be dangerous.''

The Mavericks never gave them that chance. Leading by five,
Nowitzki, Nick Van Exel and Williams all hit 3-pointers to close
out the first quarter and give Dallas a 34-20 lead.

Van Exel hit a jumper to spark a 9-0 run that gave Dallas a
48-29 lead with 6:54 to play in the half. The Mavericks pushed it
to 60-38 on Nowitzki's 3-pointer with 1:29 left, and Chicago never
threatened again.

With the game in control, Dallas coach Don Nelson went to his
bench. Nowitzki played just 24 minutes, while Steve Nash was in the
game for 18. Adrian Griffin logged the most minutes of any starter,
but even he only played 35.

Eduardo Najera and Walt Williams picked up most of the slack off
the bench, each playing 29 minutes. Najera scored 15, and Williams
added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"That was the most important thing,'' Finley said. "Our bench
came in and played well in order to give the starters a break.''

The Bulls, well, they didn't get any breaks at all, trailing by
as much as 40. They shot 43 percent from the floor, a franchise-low
41.7 percent from the free-throw line and gave away 21 points on 16

Tyson Chandler was in foul trouble most of the night, finishing
with more fouls (four) than points (three). Jay Williams was
2-of-9, not getting his first basket until 4:50 was left in the
third quarter.

Jalen Rose and Lonny Baxter were the lone bright spots. Rose
scored 24, while Baxter added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the

"I don't think it's necessarily a loss of confidence,'' Rose
said. "We're just not getting it done. We're not the best or the
most experienced team around, but we should be better.''

The fans certainly agreed, booing the Bulls at the end of the

"We're a young, aspiring team, but it's the second night in a
row we've shot 40 percent,'' Rose said. "The fans want to see us
do well, not down 30 in the third quarter. They deserve better.''

Game notes
Dallas C Evan Eschmeyer missed his second game with a
strained right knee. ... The Mavericks have won nine straight
against the Bulls, their last loss to Chicago coming on Dec. 29,
1997. ... Walt Williams' double-double was his first since November
2000. ... Bulls C Eddy Curry had his first double-double of the
year, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds.