Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls dropped to 2-3 following a 114-105 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas Wednesday night. Here are 10 observations from the loss:
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---The Bulls' defensive game plan on Luka Dončić was simple---make somebody else beat them. The Bulls trapped Dončić at almost every opportunity, sometimes as soon as he crossed midcourt, trying to force him into becoming a passer. Obviously, Dončić is very good at that. But given that Dončić entered averaging 39 points per game for the league's highest-scoring offense, it was a smart plan.
---The issue was: The Mavericks' role players came through. Dončić finished with 18 points on 5-for-16 shooting, adding 10 assists and seven rebounds. But Grant Williams and Tim Hardaway Jr. each sank seven 3-pointers as the Mavericks enjoyed a 27-point advantage from beyond the arc. Dallas shot 20-48 from 3-point range, while the Bulls finished 11-30 in a familiar math problem.
---The Mavericks also posted 24 second-chance points and the three biggest came in the final minute. The Bulls failed to corral two defensive rebounds before Josh Green buried a 3-pointer for the biggest lead of the night, nine points.
---Patrick Williams continues to struggle. He finished scoreless for the second time in three games and missed all six shots, including 0-5 from 3-point range. He's now shooting 26.7 percent on the young season, including 12.5 percent from 3-point range.
---With 16 points, DeRozan passed Larry Bird on the all-time scoring list. On Monday in Indianapolis, DeRozan talked about what that would mean to him, among other topics, in a sitdown with NBC Sports Chicago.
---The Bulls continue to get strong minutes from Ayo Dosunmu in his limited role as the fifth guard. Jevon Carter also scored in double figures for the second straight game. The issue here is both are providing solid, two-way minutes. But with LaVine, Coby White and Alex Caruso in front of them, minutes are scarce.
---In his second straight big game, Nikola Vucevic posted his first 20-20 game in a Bulls uniform and the eighth of his career. He finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds, shooting 10-for-17.
---Old friend Derrick Jones Jr. scored the Mavericks' first seven points of the second half and finished with 17. Jones Jr., who spent the last two seasons with the Bulls before declining his player opton, starts for the Mavericks. And his role is a good one for him---run the floor in transition and space the floor for Dončić with corner 3-point shooting.
---The Bulls finished 28th in offensive rebounding and 30th in second-chance points last season and they continue to try to flip that script. They finished with 12 offensive rebounds but only converted 11 second-chance points this time. and one first-half possession summed up their futility; they grabbed four offensive rebounds and missed five shots.
---After coming up on the short end of some high-profile misses confirmed by the league's Last Two-Minute Reports last season, perhaps the Bulls' karma is turning this season. Not only did they benefit from two missed calls in their overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors last week, now they're benefitting from star players sitting against them. Kyrie Irving missed his second straight game with a sprained left foot.