Bulls-Mavericks Preview

Published Dec. 25, 2015 8:03 p.m. ET

While J.J. Barea appears ready to help the banged-up Dallas Mavericks move forward, the Chicago Bulls hope their Christmas Day showing quelled some of their recent problems.

With Deron Williams' long-term status uncertain, the Mavericks will try to win consecutive games for only the second time in five weeks Saturday night against the visiting Bulls.

Williams said he was disappointed that he couldn't play Wednesday in what was supposed to be his first game in Brooklyn since signing with Dallas after the Nets waived him in July.

The three-time All-Star guard, who is averaging 17.3 points at home, does not have a timetable for a return after feeling a pop in his hamstring in Tuesday's 103-99 loss at Toronto. The Mavericks are also missing sixth man Devin Harris because of a hamstring injury.

Coach Rick Carlisle certainly made the right move by inserting Barea in the starting lineup against the Nets. The veteran point guard responded with a career-high 32 points while hitting 5 of 7 from 3-point range and adding a season-best 11 assists in a 119-118 overtime win.

"I just wanted to come out with a lot of energy early," Barea told the team's official website. "You know, we needed that. I think coach threw me in there to give a lot of energy early, and I think I got in a rhythm. I got in a rhythm, and I was able to help my team out big time."

Dirk Nowitzki finished with 22 points, moving past Shaquille O'Neal (28,596) into sixth place on the league's all-time scoring list with 28,609. He also made the go-ahead basket with 19.2 seconds left after Dallas had rallied back from a 11-point fourth-quarter deficit.


The 13-time All-Star now has got a ways to go to reach Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) at No. 5.

Barea could be asked to provide another spark as Dallas goes after only its second back-to-back wins since a season-high six-game winning streak from Nov. 11-20. The Mavericks (16-13) shot 54.9 percent from the field and 16 of 34 from beyond the arc against the Nets.

Although the Bulls (16-11) limit opponents to an NBA-low 41.6 field-goal percentage, they had let teams shoot 46.7 percent over a season high-tying three-game losing streak entering Friday. During that stretch, Jimmy Butler called out Fred Hoiberg for needing to coach the team harder and Chicago lost Joakim Noah for at least two weeks with a sprained shoulder.

The Bulls, however, got back on track with an inspired effort on Christmas Day. They held Oklahoma City to 38.5 percent shooting - including 6 of 24 from 3-point range - in a 105-96 road win.

Butler had 23 points and four steals, Pau Gasol added 21 points and 13 boards and Derrick Rose scored 19. Gasol has averaged 23.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in his last three games, while Rose had bounced back after totaling 14 points on 6-of-21 shooting in his previous two.

''We've just got to go out there and attack," forward Taj Gibson said.

Butler scored a combined 43 points and Nowitzki totaled 46 in last season's series when both teams won on the road. The Bulls have dropped three of the past five meetings, but have won the last two in Dallas.