The final stretch of the regular season has not gone as smoothly
as the Chicago Bulls had wanted.
Hoping to bounce back from their latest defeat without injured
star Derrick Rose, the Bulls try to maintain their grasp on the No.
1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a third consecutive win over
the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
Chicago’s hold on the top seed and home-court advantage
throughout the conference playoffs got a little looser with an
83-72 loss at Miami on Thursday to split the four-game season
series between the teams.
The Bulls (47-16) have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Heat in the
East, one in the loss column. Chicago has three games remaining,
while Miami has four.
“Got to win, got to win,” said Bulls guard Richard Hamilton, who
was held to six points on 1-of-6 shooting Thursday after scoring 22
in each of the previous two contests. “Just take one game at a
time. We have Dallas coming up and we have to figure out a way to
win that game.”
The Bulls likely must try to get that done without Rose for a
fourth consecutive game because of a foot injury. Chicago is 17-9
without him during his injury-plagued season, including 3-4 in
There is a possibility that Rose, averaging 22.5 points and 7.9
assists, could return for Wednesday’s game at Indiana.
“You deal with it like you deal with it all year,” coach Tom
Third-string point guard John Lucas had a team-high 16 points
Thursday as the Bulls shot 35.7 percent and were physically pushed
around while scoring their fewest points of the season.
“This game will reveal certain things to us, things that need to
be corrected, continue to strive for improvement, and we’re not
going to get caught up in (leads of) 1 1/2 games, 2 1/2 games or
whatever,” Thibodeau said. “Just keep doing the things we need to
do to win, that’s all we’re focusing on.
“We get ready for Dallas.”
Chicago beat the reigning NBA champs 82-77 at home in the most
recent meeting Jan. 20, 2011. Playing without Carlos Boozer and
Joakim Noah, the Bulls got 26 points, nine assists and seven
rebounds from Rose – the only Chicago player to score in double
While Chicago looks to avoid dropping consecutive home games for
the first time since a five-game skid March 1-19, 2010, the
Mavericks (36-28) hope to avoid a third straight road defeat.
Dallas is coming off a pair of home victories after beating
Golden State 104-94 on Friday. With two games remaining, the
Mavericks are trying to hang on to the sixth seed in the West.
“We’re playing as a cohesive unit out there,” said guard Delonte
West, who had 16 points against the Warriors.
Dirk Nowitzki averaged 30.0 points in the previous five games
before scoring 16 on Friday in the Mavericks’ home finale. He’s
averaged 30.4 points in his last five against the Bulls but
finished with 19 on 6-of-16 shooting at Chicago last season.