November 28, 2012

Dallas Mavericks start fast, but Chicago Bulls finish stronger

Game turns ugly for short-handed Mavericks in Chicago.

CHICAGO -- They finally got the kind of quality start they wanted Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, they turned in yet another ugly finish.

Looking like a tired team, the Mavericks got chased completely out of the United Center by the Bulls, who used 22 points from Luol Deng to steamroll Dallas 101-78 in front of a sellout crowd of 21,575. It was the Mavericks' eighth loss in the past 11 games and dropped their record to 7-9.

"I loved our start to the game, but they kept chipping away and they cut the deficit, they took the lead and our response wasn't good," coach Rick Carlisle said. "No excuses. We played Tuesday night [in Philadelphia], but we've just got to do a better job."

With Dominique Jones scoring six points, the Mavericks ran out to a 19-11 lead with 4:02 left in the first period after a 3-pointer by Troy Murphy. But the Bulls outscored Dallas 13-4 the rest of the period and led 24-23 going into the second quarter.

How cold did everything get for the Mavs from there?

Dallas was 11-of-20 from the floor in the first quarter, and then made only 11 of 42 attempts over the next two quarters. The cold shooting directly led to a comfortable 77-58 Bulls lead going into the fourth period.

"I believe in this group of guys, I like them," Carlisle said. "They're all good guys; they all bring some good things to the table for our team.

The Mavericks played without point guard Darren Collison, who sprained his right middle finger during Tuesday's 100-98 loss in Philadelphia. Carlisle didn't find out until right before he was about to turn in the inactive list about Collison's injury situation.

"This [Wednesday] morning I thought it was fine," Collison said. "On the way to the game I'm thinking I'm going to be able to play.

"Right before the game when I tried to shoot and dribble, I couldn't dribble with my right hand and I couldn't shoot, and it's just real frustrating right now."

The point guard situation has been so frustrating for the Mavericks that they will sign 38-year-old Derek Fisher today. Actually, they needed Fisher in the last three quarters against the Bulls when their offense became extremely stagnant.

"I think energy-wise we kind of ran out [of energy]," said Elton Brand, who had four points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. "We tried to make a push there, but we couldn't really get anything going tonight."

The Mavericks never got closer than 14 points (68-54) in the second half after a pair of free throws by Shawn Marion midway through the third quarter. This was just too big of a mountain for the Mavs to climb.

Add the fact that the Mavericks are trying to survive without superstar Dirk Nowitzki -- along with nine new players -- the combination is finally taking its toll.

"We're trying to figure out our identity, I think, and a lot of new guys are just trying to make their way and figure everything out," said center Chris Kaman, who had 10 points. "The coaches are doing everything they can.

"We've had plenty of meetings and practices. It's frustrating, but hopefully Fisher will come in and bring us some help."

Marion led Dallas with 18 points, while Vince Carter and Jones scored 10 points apiece for the Mavs, who shot only 34.6 percent from the field and were outrebounded 44-30.

O.J. Mayo, meanwhile, played on two sore ankles and scored only four points on 2-of-9 shooting.

"I hate sitting out period," Collison said. "I actually was thinking about playing with one hand today, but I just couldn't give it a go.

"Just to see my team go down like that, it's extremely tough."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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