Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was right when he said NBA games can turn around quickly.
Two days after the Bulls squandered a 27-point advantage in just eight minutes against Milwaukee, they created a 27-point reversal in their favor.
The Bulls used a 38-11 run in the first half to turn an 8-point deficit into a 19-point lead against Dallas. This time there was no comeback, no threat of a comeback, not even a nervous eye turned toward the scoreboard.
The Mavericks never got closer than 14 points in the second half as the Bulls cruised to an easy 101-78 victory Wednesday night at the United Center.
No doubt it helped that Dallas played in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, while the Bulls (7-7) had a day off to stew over the blown lead against the Bucks.
“I think, yeah, we were angry,” Taj Gibson said. “We’ve got to take care of these games that we’re supposed to win. We’ve got a lot of guys that take pride in wearing the Bulls logo. So getting this one tonight was real special.”
The story for the Bulls was bench strength — a nice change of pace after Thibodeau seemed to lose all faith in his reserves during the Milwaukee debacle.
Shooting guard Marco Belinelli and center Nazr Mohammed didn’t play at all against the Bucks, but both took the floor early in Wednesday’s second quarter. Belinelli drained his first shot attempt, a 3-pointer, and scored 11 points.
Not getting off the bench against Milwaukee added insult to injury for Belinelli.
“I was so mad. If you care about the team and care about playing basketball, you have to be mad,” he said in the locker room. “So I was really mad, first of all, because we lost that game.
“I didn’t play. I think whenever I go out, I need to play more aggressive — aggressive defense, aggressive offense. That’s what I need to play. I want to keep going like that.”
Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 13 points, while Nate Robinson hit 5 of 6 shots for 14 points. Mohammed even scored the Big Mac basket on an alley-oop from Marquis Teague, giving the Bulls 101 points and the fans free hamburgers.
Mohammed talked about the team’s 48-hour journey from 27-point blown lead to 23-point victory.
“It’s the NBA,” he said. “What I mean by that is, you hate that you lost it. But the sad part is we get over games quicker than probably any other sports, just because we have so many coming at us.
“You’re mad. You’re (ticked). You can’t wait for the next game, so you can get that taste out of your mouth. But we know we have to get back out there.”
True to form, Thibodeau mentioned some negatives and pointed out a couple of breaks that went the Bulls’ way.
“There are still some things we have to do a lot better,” he said. “Here’s the thing. We caught a break. (Darren) Collison hurt, they played last night, and (O.J.) Mayo’s nicked up (sore ankle). We had some things in our favor.”
Collison sat out with a sprained right middle finger. After the game, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle announced plans to sign veteran point guard Derek Fisher, 38, pending a physical.
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