Some of the same meticulous basketball the Dallas Mavericks saw Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs will be on display again Saturday when they tangle with the Chicago Bulls.
Tip-off is 7 p.m. at the United Center.
Like the Spurs, the Bulls (11-16) play a brand of ball that borders on being extremely efficient and beating opponents by crossing all the I’s and dotting all the T’s. About the only difference between the two squads is that the Spurs like to push the ball up the floor while the Bulls are more halfcourt-oriented.
“San Antonio and Chicago are both teams that play the detail game very, very well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “ Like San Antonio, Chicago is a team that cashes in on mental mistakes. And so we’re going to have to do a better job of making sure we keep our concentration for the full shot clock.”
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The Mavs (16-13) have had too many instances in which they’ve played proficient defense for 21 seconds of the 24-second shot clock and then been bitten in those last three seconds because of a mental lapse.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are a rugged team that likes to throw opponents around, and that’s even without guard Derrick Rose, who has only played 10 games this season and is out indefinitely with yet another knee injury.
“Their DNA is to be a smash-mouth team, to be physical and to always compete,” Carlisle said. “We know that. Our level of competitiveness is going to have to be there for the full 48 [minutes].”
The game against the Bulls opens a three-game road trip that continues Monday in Minnesota and ends Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
After winning at Houston on Monday to lift their road record to 5-9, the Mavs were hoping to make another big splash Thursday against San Antonio. But they fell behind the Spurs by 15 at home midway through the fourth quarter and then got within three points late before losing 116-107.
“I think our team really stuck together,” forward Vince Carter said. “Against a team like [the Spurs], we could have easily been blown out after that 15-point lead, but we fought and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Locker room bug
The nasty bug that has been making the rounds in the Mavs’ locker room in recent weeks has struck again.
Guard Wayne Ellington missed Friday’s practice with an illness and did not travel with the team to Chicago. But Ellington will try to fly to Chicago on Saturday and could be available to play later in the evening.
Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert, Dirk Nowitzki and Carlisle all have been ill at some point in the past couple of weeks as well.