Before Sunday's matinee between the host Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls begins, the teams must move past some recent sour endings.
"We straight up folded," the Bulls' Zach LaVine said of Friday's 127-125 overtime loss at Oklahoma City that saw Chicago squander a 10-point lead with 1:47 to go."There's not a lot to talk about."
For Dallas, a 112-109 loss at Milwaukee on the same night seemingly turned as coach Rick Carlisle elected not to call timeout to set up a play with the Mavericks trailing by two points late. Kristaps Porzingis' contested 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds left was off the mark, prompting star Luca Doncic to react in frustration toward the team bench after Dallas fouled moments later.
"If we would've made the shot, everything would be good," Doncic said. "I don't know. It's coach's decision to call a timeout or no, so I think it's good."
Doncic narrowly missed a triple-double, contributing 28 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.
Playing in his second game after recuperating from offseason surgery on his right knee, Porzingis had 15 points on 6-for-19 shooting in 19 minutes.
Porzingis acknowledged a need to be "more calm" on the floor as he works back into a routine.
"There's got to be a balance," Porzingis said. "You want to be aggressive, but you want to be aggressive in situations and positions that you're comfortable with. You don't want to always look for it."
First-year Bulls coach Billy Donovan is confident his young team will develop a stronger finishing kick, but pledged to do more after Chicago lost its fourth straight game, all by four points or less.
Committing 24 turnovers ultimately doomed the Bulls, who led the Thunder by 22 points in the third quarter and by 14 with 4:09 remaining.
"This is a hard-working group; it's a good group of guys," Donovan said. "They want to win. They don't know how to. They're learning how to. We've all got to pull together and work together and try to figure it out because this has been something these guys have dealt with for awhile. I'm 12 games into this with them. And as a coach, you feel bad. You want to be able to do more, and I've got to try and find some different ways to try to help them as a group."
Zach LaVine scored 35 points to lead five players in double figures. Back in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 29 due to NBA health and safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lauri Markkanen had 16 points.
Dallas' Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson remained out Friday due to health and safety protocols.
Chicago defeated visiting Dallas 118-108 on Jan. 3 behind 39 points from LaVine and a strong finish from Coby White, who scored 21 of his 23 points after halftime.
Doncic missed the game with a quad contusion but Brunson, who played his prep ball in north suburban Chicago, helped fill the void with 31 points.
--Field Level Media