The Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls will bring the NBA’s longest winning streak into Dallas on Sunday for a matchup with a Mavericks team that is riding its own hot spell.
Chicago won its ninth straight game Friday, 130-122 over the Washington Wizards. Chicago’s Zach LaVine scored 27 points, Coby White added 21 points off the bench, and Nikola Vucevic flirted with a triple-double, registering 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
White connected on 4-of-4 3-point attempts, Ayo Dosunmu hit 3-of-4 en route to 18 points off the bench, and Lonzo Ball scored all 18 of his points on 6-of-11 3-point shooting for the bulk of Chicago’s 15-of-33 performance from beyond the arc.
However, Bulls coach Billy Donovan said in his postgame press conference that he hopes to see continued 3-point shooting improvement as Chicago looks to extend its winning streak.
“One of the areas we need to get better at is we’ve got to get better at playing downhill,” he said. “When you get downhill, you force rotation, you force a second defender into the paint to help. That’s when your spray-out [3-pointers] start to come.”
While Donovan sees areas for more opportunities, the Bulls lead the NBA with a 38.7 percent team-wide average from 3-point range. LaVine and Ball are shooting 41.4 and 41.6 percent, respectively.
The Bulls’ offense is clicking amid the streak, which began Dec. 19. Friday marked Chicago’s fourth game in that run scoring at least 130 points, and the Bulls are averaging 120.2 points per game in that stretch.
Conversely, Dallas brings a season-best five-game winning streak into Sunday’s matchup that’s been a result of the Mavericks’ defense.
Dallas held the first four opponents in its run to less than 100 points and had a five-game span giving up 96 or less that included its most recent loss, a 95-94 decision Dec. 29 at Sacramento.
The Mavericks’ streak of sub-100-point defensive games ended Friday, but Dallas cruised in a 130-106 rout at Houston.
Jalen Brunson recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists, Josh Green shot 6-of-7 from the floor for 17 points off the bench, and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points in reserve.
Six Mavericks scored in double figures in total to help carry the offensive burden with star Luka Doncic sidelined by an ankle injury.
Doncic is averaging 25 points, 8.8 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game, including a 26-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound effort in Wednesday’s 99-82 defeat of Golden State.
Friday marked Doncic’s 11th absence in the past 14 outings for Dallas.
The Mavericks also were without Kristaps Porzingis — who is in the COVID-19 health and safety protocol — as well as head coach Jason Kidd.
Assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who oversees the Dallas defense, filled in as head coach.
“We were really excited for the opportunity he had, and he stepped up to the plate and made sure we were ready,” Brunson said in the postgame press conference.
Dallas enters Sunday’s matchup with the league’s No. 3 scoring defense through games played Friday, holding opponents to an average of 103.4 points per game.
–Field Level Media