The Chicago Bulls beat the Dallas Mavericks 144-115 on Saturday night in the first straight game.
The Bulls improved to 11-14 and sit 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Here are six takeaways from the win.
1. The Bulls set a franchise record with 82 points in the first half.
The Bulls started off with a bang, scoring a season-high 40 points in the first quarter en route to setting a franchise record for the first half with 82 points. They shot 65.9% overall and 58.8% from 3 points in halftime.
The Mavericks managed to close an early 18-point deficit, shooting within five points in the first quarter. But the Bulls ran away with the game late in the first half, entering the locker room with an 82-53 lead.
For a Bulls team that struggled to establish and defend its early leads, the performance provided an example of how this team can establish itself.
2. The Bulls enjoyed a banner night from 3 points.
The Bulls take the league’s fewest 3-pointers – averaging 28.4 attempts – but they easily topped that number in the win. They went 19 for 34 (55.9%) from 3-point range, setting a season high, and eight players hit at least one. Even backup center Tony Bradley got in on the act, making his only attempt in the last minute.
The Bulls were efficient despite six more points than usual – Patrick Williams went 4 for 5, Derrick Jones Jr. 4 for 5 and Ayo Dosunmu 3 for 5.
Coach Billy Donovan pointed to an increase in 3-point attempts as a necessity for the Bulls to struggle.
“We try,” Donovan said. “I’m not saying we just want to throw them because we have to take what the defense gives us. But there are opportunities for us to take more, and I think we did a good job recognizing and taking the ones we should take tonight.
3. The Mavericks were shorthanded without Luka Dončić and exhausted after a late start on Friday.
It’s a win the Bulls should take with a grain of salt. The Mavericks were coming off a 9 p.m. whistleblower against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday and didn’t arrive at their Chicago hotel rooms until 4 a.m., a time that drew complaints from coach Jason Kidd.
And star guard Luka Dončić walked out on Saturday with a strained right quadriceps, removing the most dangerous weapon in the team’s arsenal.
As a result, it was an unmissable opportunity for the Bulls. That should be a qualifier for the result – but it also heightens the importance of the win. The Bulls have struggled against shorthanded teams before, barely beating the Washington Wizards on Wednesday despite the absence of Bradley Beal.
If the Bulls want to gain a foothold in the East, they need to pick up wins against lesser opponents. Saturday’s victory was one of their first this season.
4. Alex Caruso has suffered a tailbone injury, renewing concerns over his long-term durability.
Despite a strong start, the Bulls dealt a blow to their roster in the first quarter when Caruso came out with a bruised tailbone. Caruso registered a point and two assists in the six minutes before the injury.
Donovan said Caruso will not be traveling with the team to Atlanta for Sunday’s game against the Hawks. The coach was unsure after Saturday’s game if Caruso would be cleared for games this week.
Caruso has been injury prone throughout his six-year career, playing just 41 games for the Bulls last season as he suffered a litany of injuries to his left foot, ankle, right wrist and wrist. back. Donovan plans to keep Caruso’s playing time below 30 minutes to avoid future absences, but the keeper’s total style invites injuries.
With Caruso’s recent stint in the starting lineup, his availability is more important than ever for the Bulls.
5. Patrick Williams delivered from 3 points.
Williams went 4 for 5 from 3-point range and 6 for 10 overall in one of his best performances of the season, finishing with 16 points, three assists and three rebounds.
Despite a slow start to the season, Williams recently shot the most effective music video of her career. He’s shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range while starting to increase his shooting volume, a much-needed addition for the Bulls as they try to bolster their offense from behind the arc.
“We’re just trying to be more balanced in those situations to make the right call,” Williams said. “And if you don’t, just be confident and aggressive in whatever decision you make.”
6. The blowout gave Zach LaVine some rest – and he was planning to play Sunday.
LaVine sat out the entire fourth quarter after posting 16 points and four assists, giving him some rest heading into his second straight game of the season. Earlier, LaVine was sidelined as part of a fast-track approach to his recovery from left knee surgery in the offseason.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Donovan was optimistic that LaVine would be able to play against the Mavs and Hawks. After the win, LaVine said he plans to play Sunday in Atlanta.
While the rest helped LaVine stave off exhaustion, he insisted it didn’t affect the decision to play on Sunday.
“I was playing both ways,” he said.