Talk about a way to end the preseason on a rather high note with the return (again) of Derrick Rose. Fitting the most exciting game of the Bulls' preseason came with Rose coming back into the fold. Even more exciting is the almost fact that he will be starting opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to the good showing and no limitations or after affects from the orbital surgery or mask. This one started out promising with Fred Hoiberg going with Kirk Hinrich to start with the usual pairings of Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell at the wings and Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol at the frontcourt.
The game opened up fast with Snell hitting two threes and seven of the Bulls first 10 points to make the score 10-8, Bulls. Soon after, Rose checked in for his long awaited return to the hardwood at the 7:30 mark. You wouldn't know based off the way he played, but he essentially missed all of training camp due to the surgery and came out swinging for the fences.
The offense, as soon as he came in, looked light years better with nice pace and movement. When the Bulls called a timeout at 5:31 mark of the first period, Hoiberg drew up a perfect play on the first possession and Rose scored immediately. A few possessions later, the Rose led Bulls charged ahead to make it 21-12, prompting Rick Carlisle to call a 20-second timeout to cool his troops down.
At the 3:21 mark, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson checked in for Mirotic and Gasol. It seems the rotation is coming into play at the frontcourt positions with Hoiberg keeping Mirotic and Pau on the floor at the same time, and the same goes with Noah and Gibson. Hoiberg essentially is maximizing the chemistry between the two pairings.
Rose's second basket made the score 24-16 and his third basket came around the two-minute mark, making the score 28-19. Rose left the quarter with less than two minutes to go, for Aaron Brooks. With no Rose in the lineup, J.J. Barea went after Brooks on offense. This should be typical this season with Brooks' defensive deficiencies well noted on the scouting report.
The second quarter spelled some doom for the Bulls with the Dallas Mavericks looking eager to show they are not going to lay down and let the Bulls win. The Mavericks decided to then go at Doug McDermott on offense and used prized free agent acquisition Wesley Matthews to score their first five points on him.
The Mavericks took the lead at 39-36 and forced the Bulls to call a timeout. Hoiberg saw enough of McDermott on Matthews and elected to go with Snell for defensive purposes. The Mavericks outscored the Bulls 11-4 to start the second quarter. Something similar in this one, as all the Bulls preseason games, was the lack of pick-and-roll defense.
Coach Rick Carlisle made funky substitutions in this one, taking out five guys at a time multiple times.
Derrick Rose made a surprise second stint with 4:42 remaining in the first half. Bobby Portis also logged his first action of the game after not receiving any playing time in the last game against the Indiana Pacers and scored a quick five points, and those would be his only five for the night. Both teams went back and forth, exchanging buckets to end the half at 53-49 in favor of the Mavericks.
The second half still began with Hinrich as the starter, and Mirotic got the Bulls going with a three for the first points of the half. The Bulls came out hungry to make the score, 59-57. After a few minutes of not scoring, Hoiberg then turned to Brooks for offense. The Bulls got it to 67-64, forcing the Mavs to call a timeout only to have their come back on breaks with the Mavericks keeping ahold of the lead all the way through the quarter to leave it at 77-74.
The fourth quarter began with a rather strange play for the Bulls after Dirk Nowitzki ran into fellow teammate Devin Harris, thus allowing Moore to get the steal for an easy two points. The most impressive Bull in this game had to be Taj Gibson. As noted earlier in the week, he looks completely healed from his ankle surgery in the offseason and put up a healthy 16 points and six boards in 23 minutes, shooting 7 of 9 from the field.
Two bad early turnovers from the Bulls turned into five quick Nowitzki points for the Mavericks and put the score at 84-78. The Taj and Joakim pairing proved to work quite nicely in the final period, and the Bulls came back with vengeance to knot the game at 86-86, causing the Mavericks to call a timeout of their own.
This game looked like it would have the makings of a good ending from this point on. Portis checked back into the game at the 5:33 mark for Noah, thus giving the Bulls another interesting pairing in the frontcourt. The Mavericks went on a 5-0 run, burning another Bulls timeout at the near five-minute mark. This quarter was the definition of a boxing match, with each team giving strikes to see if the other would come back. The Bulls answered, giving a run of their own, scoring the next three baskets, one of which came on a timely three-point basket and first field goal from McDermott.
After a Mavs timeout, the Bulls pushed their lead to six, 101-95. John Jenkins had his say in the matter, though, as he scored six of the Mavericks final seven points, leaving the game at 102-101.
The Bulls called a timeout and were left with the final opportunity of the game. The game was then sealed when McDermott drained the game-winning shot off of an assist from Moore.
The Bulls happily took the win from the Mavericks with a final score of 103-102, concluding pre-season action with a bang.