The Chicago Bulls can point to a banged-up roster as one reason
they’ve lost three straight, but a growing injured list has yet to
derail the NBA’s hottest team.
The Dallas Mavericks already have three road wins against
Eastern Conference playoff contenders during their 10-game winning
streak, and they’ll look for a fourth as they visit the struggling
Bulls on Saturday night.
Although guard Jason Terry was beginning a two-week recovery
from facial surgery and newly acquired center Brendan Haywood
missed the final three quarters of Friday’s game against Sacramento
due to back issues, Dallas still extended its longest winning
streak of the season with a 108-100 victory.
The Mavericks (42-21) benefited from an unsurprising 31-point,
12-rebound effort by Dirk Nowitzki, but were also buoyed by a
career-high 22 points off the bench from rookie Roddy Beaubois.
“Roddy did a great job for us being that energy plug that
(Terry) usually is and hitting some big shots,” Nowitzki said of
the Guadeloupe native.
None of Dallas’ wins during its run have come by more than 10
points, and its last eight have come by single digits, but despite
the lack of blowout victories, the Mavs have put together their
longest winning streak since they won 17 in a row from Jan.
27-March 11, 2007.
They trailed the Kings by double digits in the first half but
took the lead for good by outscoring Sacramento 33-19 during the
“When you’re on a streak like this, everybody’s gunning for you,
everybody wants to be the team to take you down,” said Dallas coach
Rick Carlisle, who was ejected in the second quarter. “So you’re
going to get everybody’s best game. We’ve had some slow starts, but
it’s something we’ve been able to overcome many times.”
The Mavs have already beaten Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte on
the road during the streak, improving to 11-3 at East venues this
They are also missing center Erick Dampier and forward Tim
Thomas, and they could be somewhat thin in the middle if Haywood
cannot return Saturday.
But the Bulls (31-30) have also had a difficult time inside
without top rebounder Joakim Noah, who is dealing with plantar
fasciitis. Noah has missed each of Chicago’s three straight losses,
with the Bulls getting outrebounded by a combined 109-68 in the
“We have to get bodies on people and be more physical,” Bulls
coach Vinny Del Negro said after a 105-96 home loss to Memphis on
Thursday. “You have to control the tempo of the game and get more
baskets. Everyone has to be more physical and get more loose
As one of five teams jockeying for the final four playoff spots
in the East, the Bulls can’t afford a continued slip. A turnaround
may be difficult with top scorers Derrick Rose and Luol Deng
playing through sore knees and Chicago’s next seven games against
teams currently at or over .500.
“It’s not time to panic,” Deng said. “We’ve got 21 games left.
We’ve got to play with a lot more energy than (Thursday),
especially in the second half.”
The Bulls’ challenging stretch includes two games against the
Mavericks, with the team traveling to Dallas on March 17.
While the Bulls have dropped 18 of 21 to Dallas since Michael
Jordan’s departure, Chicago gave the Mavs trouble last season,
beating them 98-91 at home on Nov. 13, 2008.
Nowitzki was held to 12 points in that game, but he bounced back
with a 44-point effort in the Mavs’ 115-114 overtime win in Dallas
on Feb. 7, 2009.