Bulls 101, Mavericks 78

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau preaches 48 minutes of effort to his
team. He didn’t quite get that against the Mavericks on Wednesday
night, but it was much better than the last time out.

Luol Deng had 22 points and six rebounds as Chicago cruised to a
101-78 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Five players scored at least 11 points to help the Bulls (7-7)
beat the Mavericks for the fourth straight time. Chicago recovered
from a 93-92 loss to Milwaukee on Monday, in which it blew a
27-point third-quarter lead, largely due to the proficiency of its
reserves.

”The bench was great,” Thibodeau said. ”The starters got us
out to a good start. We needed everybody.”

Nate Robinson had 14 points and a game-high six assists for
Chicago, and fellow reserve Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 13,
including 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.

”I feel like we’re coming together, getting more comfortable
out there,” Butler said. ”They tell us all the time that you have
to keep building that lead, but it definitely shows that any night,
any team – 20 down, 10 down – they can come back and win the
game.”

The Bulls’ bench combined for a season-high 50 points.

Joakim Noah chipped in 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and
three blocks as Chicago avoided its first three-game losing streak
at the United Center since dropping five straight in March
2010.

”It was good to come out and forget that last loss and move
forward as a team,” said Bulls reserve Taj Gibson, who had eight
points and eight rebounds. ”We understand we have a long season.
There’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road, but we’re sticking
together.”

Shawn Marion scored a season-high 18 points for Dallas, which
shot just 35 percent to lose for the eighth time in 11 games. The
Mavericks (7-9), who had won 21 of 27 against Chicago, dropped to
2-6 on the road.

”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 last
night and all that, but we just have to do a better job.”

Both teams were coming off difficult losses. The Mavericks lost
100-98 at Philadelphia on Tuesday when O.J. Mayo missed a pair of
free throws with 2.7 seconds left. The Bulls had a 78-51 lead in
Monday’s loss before the Bucks broke off a game-changing 31-4
run.

”We’ve got to show a collective caring for one another and a
collective toughness,” Carlisle said. ”We’re entering a really
difficult stretch of our schedule. Nothing’s going to be easy.
We’ve got to embrace that challenge.”

Dallas closed within six with 2:30 to go in the third Wednesday
but after a timeout, Deng hit a 3-pointer and Robinson scored on a
drive to give Chicago its biggest lead, 77-56.

The Bulls pushed the lead to 29 in the fourth quarter and never
led by fewer than 17.

”Overall, I thought we played a lot tougher with the lead,”
Thibodeau said.

The crowd roared to life in the closing minutes as Chicago
neared 100 points, meaning a free sandwich for everyone in
attendance. Nazr Mohammed’s dunk did the trick, eliciting a huge
roar from the remaining fans.

Chicago’s reserves keyed a second-quarter spurt to open the
game. After Rodrigue Beaubois’ 3 cut the lead to 31-28, Chicago
went on a 13-0 run and outscored Dallas 18-2 over the next
4:40.

Dallas’ leading scorer, Mayo, was held to a season-low four
points on 2-for-9 shooting. He entered the game averaging 20.8
points and had scored in double digits in each of the Mavs’ first
15 games. It was just the second time in his NBA career that Mayo
scored four or fewer points while playing 30 or more minutes.

”Here’s the thing – we caught a break,” Thibodeau said.
”They’re missing (Darren) Collison and Dirk (Nowitzki) and they
played last night. And Mayo is dinged up with an ankle
injury.”

NOTES: Collison was inactive because of a sprained right middle
finger. The point guard has struggled recently in his first season
with Dallas, shooting 35 percent over his last seven games and
averaging 3.0 turnovers per contest. Collison started 14 of Dallas’
first 15 games, coming off the bench for the first time this season
in Saturday’s loss to Philadelphia. He has been replaced in the
starting lineup by third-year point guard Dominique Jones. … Each
team took the floor with its best player still rehabbing from knee
surgery. Neither Chicago’s Derrick Rose (left knee) nor Nowitzki
(right knee), both former NBA MVPs, were at the game. … Mayo is
averaging 24.3 points on 52 percent shooting at home, but just 15.3
points on 40.6 percent shooting on the road.