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10 Observations: Mavericks rout Bulls in first game back from 4-game road trip

The Mavericks dominated the Bulls in their first game back from a 4-game road trip

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The Bulls returned home from a lengthy West Coast road trip to host the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. The Bulls fell to the Mavericks drastically, 127-92.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

---- The last time these two teams faced off was Nov. 1, when the Mavericks defeated the Bulls, 114-105, in Dallas. Grant Williams and Tim Hardaway Jr. led the team, scoring 25 and 24 points, respectively.

---- The Mavericks have one of the more prolific offenses in the NBA. They rank sixth in scoring and second in 3-point attempts per game. Last time out against the Bulls, they shot 48 3-pointers to the Bulls' 33. They sunk 20 of them, as the Bulls knocked down 11. Perimeter defense is vital for the Bulls.

--- An old friend of the Bulls --- Daniel Gafford --- came into Monday's game having made 19 straight field goals from his previous three games. He extended that streak against the Bulls by making nine straight. His streak is now up to 28 straight field goals, which is a record in the statistics era, but short of Wilt Chamberlin's 35 straight mark.

--- The Bulls' defense was nonexistent in the first quarter, as the Maverick --- at one point --- built up a 20-point lead. Of course, Luka Dončić had his fingerprints all over the Mavericks' offensive success. He recorded 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the first quarter. End of the first quarter: 44-16, Mavericks.

--- Speaking of, the last time a Bulls opponent reached 44 points in the first quarter was the Warriors in October 2018. That's only the fifth time in franchise history an opponent has reached that mark in the first frame. Yikes.

--- Not only did the Bulls struggle on defense, allowing 62 points to the Mavericks in the first half, but they also struggled on offense; specifically, with shooting. They shot 34.8% from the field and 15.8% from beyond the arc in the first half. Those metrics add up to the Bulls posting 42 points at the half. They finished shooting under 40% from the field and 21.2% from deep range.

--- Midway through the third quarter, Dončić got his 17th triple-double of the season. He notched 17 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists at that point. And while the Bulls weren't putting on much of a show, Dončić was doing that for them with his shooting, strength and incredible passing abilities. He finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists.

"He's one of the superstars in this league for a reason since he came into the league," DeMar DeRozan said after the game. "His IQ, the way he reads the game, the way he breaks down defenses. It's hard to stop."

--- Ayo Dosunmu, in particular, struggled more than the rest. Despite his constant activity on the glass --- grabbing eight rebounds --- he didn't have his best game. He finished with nine points, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 from distance. He turned the ball over twice and finished -35 on the floor.

--- Julian Phillips played the most minutes off the bench, clocking out at 28 minutes --- the most in a single game for his career. Billy Donovan has an affinity for his length and defensive abilities, which came in handy in some instances, but not enough to make a significant difference in this one.

"I have confidence in Julian I thought he did a good job while he was out there," Donovan said postgame. "The balance between him and Alex [Caruso] and Torrey [Craig] is somewhat challenging quite honestly because they're all really good players. And Alex starts and you get Torrey coming back off injury so you're kinda trying to work him back into it. That probably has impacted Julian some. But I do have confidence in him and feel like he's done a good job."

--- After an impressive road trip on the West Coast that saw the Bulls win three of four games against some of the best teams in the West, they can chalk this one up as a bypass. But this upcoming home stretch --- against somewhat beatable opponents --- will be crucial down the season's final stretch.

The Bulls quickly travel to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers this Wednesday before returning for a three-game home stretch, which will be crucial for their standing in the Eastern Conference.

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