CHICAGO (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks didn’t need a big contribution from Luka Doncic to beat the Chicago Bulls. Harrison Barnes and J.J. Barea took care of that.
Barnes scored a season-high 23 points and the Mavericks overcame a sluggish performance by their prized rookie to beat the Bulls 103-98 Monday night.
Barea added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Mavericks won for the third time in four games after losing six in a row, even though Doncic struggled. The leading scorer among NBA rookies, Doncic finished with 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
“Sometimes, (Doncic)’s gonna have bad games,” Barea said. “He’s still young, and he can’t be great every game. So we’ve got to help him out.”
The Mavericks led by as many as 14 points and never trailed after the first quarter. But they struggled to put this one away, with Chicago pulling within a point four times in the second half.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 26 points. Jabari Parker scored all but two of his 16 points in the second half.
LaVine’s breakaway windmill dunk cut Dallas’ lead to 58-57, but Dennis Smith Jr. responded with a 3-pointer.
“We came out too lackadaisical,” LaVine said. “We’ve got to come out and play better. We’ve got to have more energy.”
It was 87-84 midway through the fourth when Smith hit a jumper and Barnes made two free throws to stretch the lead to seven points. Doncic hit a 3 with just over three minutes left to make it 96-88. After the Bulls got within four, Barnes made two free throws with 10.5 seconds left and the Mavericks hung on.
“We’ve had a lot of tough losses this year, times where we were close and just couldn’t get over the hump, couldn’t make the right play,” Barnes said. “Things are finally starting to come together.”
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